The Manxome Foe
At work, for the past week or so, I've been wrestling with a complicated-ish thing, born of a conversation over lunch about something completely different, and taking me deep into some statistics and algebra that I don't really understand (yet). It's awesome.
But (more than once), I've been explaining the thing to someone, and had them offer helpful advice: "Isn't this problem basically [this simpler thing]?" My response has consistently been along the lines of "No, of course not! Can't you see that it's obviously more complicated than that?" I even had a version of this exchange with myself recently, where I thought for a moment that it was actually trivial after all, and then (with some relief) reminded myself that it was, in fact, hard. Whew, what a relief.
...except that, if the point was actually to solve problems in the world, that's entirely the wrong attitude to take. This problem either:
- actually isn't complex, in which case rooting for it to be harder is pretty useless
- actually is