Monday, May 24, 2004

Greedy algorithm

In computer algorithm design, there is this term 'greedy algorithm'. Greedy algorithms are usually among the first few proposed by the pioneers. The main characteristic of greedy algorithm is to achieve the best results in each and every steps. In this way, we will have the best result at the end. The problem is that this is very expensive. Usually, it is only the final state that we are interested, i.e. regardless of the intermediate state, as long as the final state is the best will do. Thus, 'smarter' algorithms will achieve the same best result at the final step in a shorter time. (Those who have studied sorting algorithms will surely see the connection)

In layman term, I think 'short-sighted' (in chinese: 眼光短浅) is similar to the idea behind greedy algorithm. In some of those 'smarter' algorithms, it is not easy to understand the purpose and the direction the each step is leading to. In real life, choosing the obvious best option at the present moment is like the greedy algorithm, and might lead you to the best desired outcome, but that will be costly. Sometimes, when we think a decision is seemingly poor or even stupid, try to stretch the time longer and we might understand the cleverness in such decisions.

Presently in Singapore, the government is headache about the low birth rate problem. This is not a health issue, but a social one. The more complex issue behind is younger generation decision of not getting marriage and/or intention to have very few children or even none. The obvious best option for a young working adult is to stay single base on financial and lifestyle concerns. However, if we look further, and wider, I believe that marriage and parenthood are very benefitial to us as human, although we may be temporarily become poorer financially and lesser personal time. I guess the question is, do we want our contributions to be limited by time or be potentially eternal through bringing up a good lineage?

2 comments:

Esther said...

Yes, young people going for personal interests instead of leaving descendents and carrying on the lineage is a big problem. But over here, the birth rate is still high but without marriage. I think this is even worse because the children born in single-parent families will be unbalanced. This will set the trend for even more broken families. haiz...

dclh said...

Saw your comment that I didn't respond previously while doing some tidying of my blog.
In some sense, I find ecology is quite an advance field as it usually considers the whole picture. When marriage and pregnancy are considered separately, rather than stressing that pregnancies without marriage should be treated very much different from pregnancies within marriage.

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