Thursday, January 23, 2014

Problems? Where's Professor Harold Hill when you need him?

Problems, my friend - I say we've got problems. Big, big problems. Right here. With a capital P that rhymes with C that stands for Computers.

So, knowing the "Little Red Hen" Principle as I do - that if one needs something done, one should do it one's self - I announce this fascinating new series, "Case Studies in Computer Science." After all, I know the author, and someone with a doctorate in computer science who's worked in the field for over 30 years ought to be able to explain what problem-solving is all about!

The first volume is called The Problem with "Problem-Solving Skills" - and it ought not take Professor Harold Hill to give one of his mile-a-minute lectures to explain that! Yes, that famous Music Man gets to play a brief passage in the work, along with a huge cast of characters, not all of whom are ASCII characters, hee hee: Winthrop Paroo, Aquinas, Henry of Langenstein, Robinson Crusoe, Hugh of St. Victor, Boethius, Milo (from The Phantom Tollbooth), Gauss, Jaki, Babbage, Captain (ahem, Admiral) Grace Hopper, Seymour Cray, Danny Dunn, Rovol of Norlamin, the Abominable Snow Monster of the North - and eight Russian dolls...

Very tech, very bizarre, and a pleasantly curious selection of strange problems and even stranger solutions. Insifde you will learn some of the things you can add to your own toolbox of "problem-solving skills" even if you aren't a computer scientist.

See here for details, or

I've heard that a future volume is going to explain how the author has obtained all the primes up to 14 trillion, and has managed to store all of them in just under half a terabyte; apparently the files aren't Lempel-Ziv compressed, either. (Treeks? I guess so.) Apparently that's not the only cool thing, but I'd rather know about those recursive dolls on the front cover.

All right, one more hint. Supposedly he's going to reveal the answer to a problem confounding mathematicians for centuries: Since "number theory" is the Queen of Mathematics, what is the Led Zepplin of Mathematios? Hmm...