Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Nature of Problem Solving

I spent a large portion of my weekend trying to write a program to solve a particularly stubborn nonlinear equation. I made good progress, until I reached a critical point. Discussion with everyone else revealed that they were also stuck on the same point. I promised to work on it in the afternoon, and jokingly said "In half an hour, I'll have it figured out."

It took 26 minutes to work out and understand the solution in my head, 23 minutes to code it into the computer program, and then 55 minutes to work out why I was getting divergant behaviour out of a system which should obviously converge. As usual, one little "-" sign buried deep in the code had magically disapeared.

Debugging is never fun...

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