7/22/07

Algorithms in real life

We use a lot of algorithms in our daily lives without knowing about it. I am not talking about the algorithms that are in use by things surrounding us like the computer or the cellphone. I am talking about algorithms in human behavior. For instance, take they way I choose my attire for a work week. My week kicks off with say a polo shirt and trousers on a Monday. Then its jeans and a T-shirt on Tuesday. After I have worn different things for the first two days of the week, on a Wednesday I go back to what I wore on Monday. Thursday again is the same as Tuesday and Friday the same as Monday. That is an example of round robin scheduling. While the cleanliness of this approach is open to debate, its solid scientific underpinnings are beyond reproach.

As another example, consider the way men argue. We argue as if we were walking down a singly linked list, reading the thoughts stored in each list node. We move from one point to another and then just like a singly linked list, we have no capability of backtracking because we have forgotten our previous thought. On the other hand, when women argue, they seem to be armed with a much superior data structure than our lowly singly linked list. At first glance, you would think that they are using a doubly linked list as they are able to back track to any moment of time in the history of your entire relationship. But think again. They are using something even more sophisticated and powerful than that. The data structure that they have at their disposal can not only backtrack into their own thought process, but it has the amazing ability to backtrack into our stupid singly linked thought chain as well. That is how they can remember what we said six and a half years ago at a friend's dinner party and then somehow link that to the current conversation. Also each of these events have a different emotional weight assigned to them, which explains why recollection of some of these older events can result in tears as if the thing happened yesterday. This my friends looks like some kind of weighted doubly linked skip list that is as yet unknown to Computer science and warrants further study by the leading experts in the field. The only defense we (the men) seem to have developed against this is to maintain a single item cache of an apology. Thus when we are thrown completely off balance in an argument, by jumps to seemingly arbitrary past events that are accomplished by the use of a very sophisticated algorithm, we abandon our singly linked thought chain, retrieve the cached apology and replay it like a broken record. And they say men are more analytical than women. Go figure!

2 comments:

  1. There are exceptions & exceptions. For ex the algorithms that women apply some men do too - ex BZ

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  2. Here is my example, consider the household chores. Women do them as if we are walking down a single linked list. We move from one point to another and then just like a singly linked list, we have no capability of a back tracking because we have forgotten our previous chore. On the other hand, with men, when there are a bunch of chores about the house, we seem to have to reboot the machine and run the “please clean up after yourself” script every hour. Still its not as simple as that, men seem to be using some sort of a doubly linked list that allows them to go back and tell us when in your entire relationship they have done some chores. They also have some kind of weighted doubly linked skip list that they use to point out how you always had a history of obsessing with chores and how inconvenient it is for them to do them when you need them to be done. Also each of these events have a different emotional weight assigned to them, which explains why recollection of some of these older events can result in irritated, annoyed and sometimes angry jibes for our obvious invasion into their peace of mind.

    But that is not all..they also seem to be simultaneously running another sophisticated algorithm that they have at their disposal that not only enables them override our stupid singly linked thought chain but also ascertains that the chores should never take over your life and that they can always wait. Now we are the obsessive ones and have your very own “Now wait a minute!” moment which might start the argument that leads both parties reaching for a new set of algorithms..roles reversed

    Think about this guys..I am sure if you dump your “sophisticated algorithm”, we won’t need to retrieve ours. So the ball is in your court, you can choose how to play it. We just follow your lead.

    BTW, I completely agree with Shri’s analysis on the argument thing. We do argue to win. Many many times I see the look of horror in my husband face, when suddenly he realizes the rules of the argument have changed and he is scrambling to get the cached apology in an effort to salvage the rest of the day..and if it helps we always appreciate the apology although we can see that it is nothing more than a “lets get this over with” thing :-)

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