Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The 23 Toughest Math Questions

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the innumerate-need-not-apply dept.

Math 340

coondoggie sends in a Network World post that begins "It sounds like a math phobic's worst nightmare or perhaps Good Will Hunting for the ages. Those wacky folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have put out a research request it calls Mathematical Challenges, that has the mighty goal of 'dramatically revolutionizing mathematics and thereby strengthening DoD's scientific and technological capabilities.' The challenges are in fact 23 questions that, if answered, would offer a high potential for major mathematical breakthroughs, DARPA said." Some of the questions overlap with the Millennium Prize Problems of the Clay Mathematics Institute, which each carry a $1M prize.

cancel ×

340 comments

The answer (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203101)

42

no (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203149)

23

Re:no (1, Funny)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203405)

2+3=5

Hail Eris! All hail Discordia!

Re:no (2, Informative)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203463)

69 FTW!

Re:no (4, Funny)

erstazi (1304229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203513)

77 is better. You get 8 more.

Re:no (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203587)

tru7h

Re:no (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203771)

Apparently, according to Google this is a pretty dang hard question to answer:
Yep, google breaks! [google.com]

Re:The answer (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203211)

I'm rather unhappy that I only got 11 of the 23 right.... guess my math skills are getting rusty.

Re:The answer (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203297)

If you think you're unhappy.... I got 35 of the 23 questions right and I don't even know how I did that.

Re:The answer (1)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203411)

no the answer is

about 350 +/- the sq rt of a loaf of bread

Re:The answer (1)

muzicman (1148101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203611)

But what was the question?

Come together right now (2, Interesting)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203107)

Surely there are enough nerds on slashdot to figure these out. Or are we not as smart as we say we are?

Re:Come together right now (3, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203233)

Or are we not as smart as we say we are?

Maybe you not smart. Me think good.

Re:Come together right now (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203243)

Too much group think here for the free thinking approach the solution to many of these problems will require.

Re:Come together right now (5, Funny)

iocat (572367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203437)

Huh... I just figured out a neat, elegant solution to #17, but there's not quite enough space in this margin to fit it in...

Re:Come together right now (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203443)

Surely there are enough nerds on slashdot to figure these out. Or are we not as smart as we say we are?

You must be new here.

Re:Come together right now (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203819)

As far as I can see the questions amount to "Solve all existing problems surrounding AI and social modelling. Prize: 1,000,000 dollars". I think that if I had the skills to create this new era of deterministic human behaviour modelling in a way that can be scaled from the the actions and thoughts of an individual all the way up to a societal level, I'd want to make more than 1,000,000 dollars from my discoveries.

The answer is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203117)

The 23 Toughest is Michael Jordan for now

I have a challenge for the DoD: (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203123)

Don't use MS Word.

I also have a challenge for the slashdot janitors: Link to the original source instead of an ad-laden blog.

Re:I have a challenge for the DoD: (3, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203353)

What ads? Or are you some sort of IE user?

Re:I have a challenge for the DoD: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203379)

luckily they encoded the file with ASCII so Linux users can decode it with ...
strings DARPA-BAA-08-65.doc | less

re: janitors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203451)

they really are challenged:

"which each carry a $1M prize."

try:

"each of which carries a $1M prize."

Re:I have a challenge for the DoD: (1, Offtopic)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203455)

The original source [utah.edu]

Oh, wait...you meant something else, didn't you?

Re:I have a challenge for the DoD: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203483)

Oh, come on. It's kdawson - what do you expect? Be glad we got *some* link, rather than just the summary without any.

Re:I have a challenge for the DoD: (1)

mgichoga (901761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203569)

That is why you use Firefox with the Adbblock Plus extension!

Tough math (-1, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203127)

For politicians, the toughest math question is 1 + 1.

Re:Tough math (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203249)

Ha! The subtlety of your sarcasm nearly evaded the grasp of my comprehension. Well done sir!

Bobby Heenan Said It Best... (0, Offtopic)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203267)

(Rough quote, probably not quite all the way accurate).

Schiavone: The answer is easy as two plus two!

Heenan: Five!

Schiavone: Two plus two is FOUR, Bobby...

Heenan: Not if you get the deal...

Re:Bobby Heenan Said It Best... (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203733)

If you define 2 as:
1.5<=2<2.5
Then 2+2 is somewhere between 3 and 5, and any values where 2>2.25 the answer would be rounded to 5.

Benefits the NSA (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203133)

The portion of the DoD most interested in maths achievements is the NSA, which employs more mathematicians than any other institution in the world (see e.g. Bamford's Body of Secrets [amazon.com] ). So when the authors of this list talk about increasing the abilities of the DoD, they really mean increasing violation of privacy and harrasment of anyone thinking too freely.

Re:Benefits the NSA (0, Troll)

HBI (604924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203279)

The DoD isn't the NSA.

Not even close.

Re:Benefits the NSA (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203343)

The NSA is a component of the Department of Defense. From Wikipedia:

he National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States government, administered as part of the United States Department of Defense.

Re:Benefits the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203393)

So isn't the Corp of engineers. You know, the people who build lakes and work on the the rivers.

They really have nothing to do with the DOD outside of funding.

Re:Benefits the NSA (5, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203427)

Speaking as one who trained as a cryptologic technician interpretative (Mandarin Chinese) in the US Navy, I'd say the NSA has a lot to do with the DoD. So much of the NSA's manpower consists of active-duty soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. NSA facilities are located at army and navy bases worldwide.

Re:Benefits the NSA (3, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203763)

Speaking as a former airmen with a very similar past, aren't we not supposed to speak about that? EEFI?

Re:Benefits the NSA (3, Funny)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203839)

Especially as your user name 'the donger' is a little trickier than that of Mr. C. R. Culver at christopherculver.com. I wonder how quickly they'll find him...

Re:Benefits the NSA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203289)

(+5, the whole point). I'm a mathematician-in-training and I've just finished an MSc. It's so depressing to see that mathematics has been turned in the last 50 years from a way of expanding the mind and as a tool for scientific discovery to a channel for

(1) optimising wealth generation on the gambling paradise they call the stock market; and

(2) invading privacy to ensure those who have won the gamble get to keep their hardly-earnt gains.

This also means that half my fellow mathematicians are money/power-hungry bastards who remind me that there is no benevolent god (for no such god would reward nasty characters with so much talent). I am in an environment which through peer pressure discourages those who might pursue mathematical ars gratia artis, as it were.

Plato might despair, seeing mathematics today as precisely the toy of the world of change and decay he sought to distance it from. Hardy's ode to number theory could not have been more wrong.

Fuck DARPA and fuck the NSA. And before some idiot goes all "we'd have no Internet without...", (1) says who? the Internet was designed and implemented by a host of international contributors (2) so what? the end does not justify the means. I'm in the UK, and I've had the best of my peers prodded by our equivalent agencies to leave research and go work for them, and I'm so proud of them for having refused (fuck knows with my mouth they'd never ask me). These agencies all exist, ultimately, to oppress - whether abroad or at home.

Please, do not feed the hand that bites.

Like high school all over again. (5, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203147)

Does anyone else here feel like we're being asking us to do someone else's math homework for them?

Re:Like high school all over again. (5, Funny)

Catil (1063380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203271)

Yes, except we won't get paid this time.

Re:Like high school all over again. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203741)

Actually, TFA says DARPA is awarding research grants. For all intents and purposes, that is getting paid. Additionally, some of those questions, per the summary, carry a $1 million prize.

So do the homework, get rich.

Sounds good, right?

Here's a tough one. (-1, Redundant)

Zashi (992673) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203153)

How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb?

Re:Here's a tough one. (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203191)

How did the mathematician solve for constipation?

He worked it out with his pencil!

Re:Here's a tough one. (4, Funny)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203315)

Why?

"Because calculators are a pain in the ass."

Re:Here's a tough one. (3, Funny)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203399)

Not as much as using logs.

All roads lead to goatse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203619)

There must be some kind of analogue to Godwin's law here...

Re:Here's a tough one. (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203651)

Not as much as using logs.
They are a bit too heavy. I use paddle pop sticks instead.

Re:Here's a tough one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203457)

Is it mathematician joke time again?

An engineer, a mathematician and an engineer are in separate hotel rooms. They each have a fire in the room when they are asleep.

The engineer grabs his ice bucket, fills it with water, dumps it on the fire and goes back to bed.

The physicist carefully measures how much fuel the fire has, how fast it is spreading and how much oxygen is available for the fire, then calculates exactly how much water he needs and dumps it on the fire.

The mathematician performs the same calculations as the physicist, proclaims "A solution exists!" and goes back to bed.

Re:Here's a tough one. (1)

azgard (461476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203193)

One ever. He will prove that it can be done. But after this is proven, it's quite uninteresting problem.

The correct answer is zero. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203241)

Iraq has 1 billion barrels of oil. American wants 1 billion barrels of oil. How many barrels of oil does Iraq have?

Re:Here's a tough one. (2, Interesting)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203377)

Unsure... [explosm.net]

Re:Here's a tough one. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203407)

Only one, but since you need the Axiom of Choice to implement the algorithm, it might not work.

Here's a toughy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203207)

You are a banker who has US$700b in bad loans mostly provided to people who had a history of bad debt and whom have defaulted on their repayments. The Government is offering you somebody elses money to cover your poor judgement and prop up your terrible lending practices. Answer the following questions (1 point each):
  1. Is US$700b enough?
  2. What will be the total value wiped of the global stock markets by your ineptitude?
  3. How big will your bonus be this year

Bonus question: Is lending a value that is worth 125% of the house it is secured against a good idea? State your reasons why and show your working out.

Re:Here's a toughy (5, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203313)

Dude, this question is pretty irrelevant, I mean, when would a situation like that ever arise?

Re:Here's a toughy (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203361)

Those terrible lending practices were encouraged by congress, the bush administration ("ownership society") and lawsuits/protests/complaints against banks for "racist" loaning practices (ie, loaning money to people who are likely to repay).

Re:Here's a toughy (3, Informative)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203761)

Encouraging someone to do something stupid doesn't actually change the fact that it's stupid though :)

Re:Here's a toughy (1, Offtopic)

kklein (900361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203737)

4. Will the entire economy go belly-up because some whiny voters who don't understand that this is a financially extinction-level event decide to get all moralistic instead of being pragmatic and fixing it, while making sure it can't happen again, like the liquidity trap of the Great Depression and the S&L fracas can't happen again?

Answer: Yes.

How they formulate the requests? (3, Interesting)

azgard (461476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203223)

These are really hard problems and I wonder how does anyone formulate a research grant requests for them.

Re:How they formulate the requests? (1)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203305)

Its done the same way nearly anyone formulates a research grant request - they look at grant requests that have already been submitted by others, and build their own in that model. No one makes it from scratch, there is a predefined format which must be followed, then they make it very similar to other grant requests which have been accepted, but ensure they differentiate themselves and highlight the importance of their research. Its not as challenging as one might think to write a grant request just because the problems are abstract.

I know the answer to #23 (1)

Arc the Daft (1340487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203237)

Physics.

Re:I know the answer to #23 (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203467)

Physics.

Prove it. Mathematically. I'll wait here while you work it out.

Re:I know the answer to #23 (1)

Arc the Daft (1340487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203561)

How about you give me an example of something in biology that doesn't follow from physics.

If it is so, then we would have on our hands a great discovery in Physics, Biology and Mathematics all at the same time.

I suspect that the biology of one or more processes has been discovered already and the math to bridge the gap from existing theories needs to be invented.

But pay no attention to me, I don't know what I'm talking about!

Re:I know the answer to #23 (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203665)

How about you give me an example of something in biology that doesn't follow from physics.

Because you can't prove a negative.

I suspect that the biology of one or more processes has been discovered already and the math to bridge the gap from existing theories needs to be invented.

Math is not invented. It is discovered. That's like saying that Columbus invented America.

But pay no attention to me, I don't know what I'm talking about!

No comment.

Following in Hilbert's footsteps huh (2, Interesting)

dido (9125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203247)

I wonder if it's just coincidence that the number of problems they list is the same as the number of problems David Hilbert listed in his famous address [clarku.edu] in 1900. And well, the Riemann Hypothesis is there too. A hundred years later, and still no resolution.

Re:Following in Hilbert's footsteps huh (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203633)

It's an obvious mimic of Hilbert. Unsurprisingly, the guy compiling them is a loon who has ideas above his station.

See:
www.ams.org/notices/200804/tx080400445p.pdf
http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/category/2007/12/challenges_for_the_future.html

Since you mentioned Good Will Hunting (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203255)

Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get killed.

Now the politicians are sayin' "send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some guy from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute, little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink seven and sevens and play slalom with the icebergs and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil, and kills all the sea-life in the North Atlantic. So my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive so he's got to walk to the job interviews which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue-plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.

So what'd I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure I'll eliminate the middle man. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? Christ, I could be elected President.

the art of posing problems (5, Insightful)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203263)

There is an art in finding good questions. Hilbert did it in 1900 with his 23 problems or the millenia problems in 2000. Some of the 23 problems stated are too vague. The first example: "Develop the mathematics of the brain". This covers large parts of computer science, artificial intelligence and psychology. What does "mathematically consistent" mean? A mathematical problem can be taken seriously if there is a clear goal and if there is a possibility to determine, when the problem is solved. This is not the case for many of the problems listed on this website.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203357)

I would say that most of these are so vague that they are 'research areas', rather than 'questions'. Sort of like 'develop a mathematically consistent model for the motions of heavenly bodies'. They do sound fun though.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203391)

Actually it is rather specific. They want you to build a working brain simulator with a math foundation rather then guesses at what the brain is doing biologically.

AFAIK mathematically consistent means that it's all derived from the axioms without any hand waving.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203481)

"Actually it is rather specific. They want you to build a working brain simulator with a math foundation rather then guesses at what the brain is doing biologically."

What they are asking for is a contradiction in terms, math is derived from thought, we do not think using abstract formal systems, we think using direct neurological computation, the "mathematics" we have invented is not the language of the brain, it is a derivitive language of some more basic unified language.

Math is the problem, the brain does not work by formal symbol computation, math is derived from neurological computation. This has been scientifically studied. See:

http://www.amazon.com/Molecule-Metaphor-Neural-Language-Bradford/dp/0262562359/ [amazon.com]

Re:the art of posing problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203585)

It might be ironic that we came up with math with our brains, and that now math will explain the brain, but it is not a contradiction in terms.

Re:the art of posing problems (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203563)

A mathematically consistent formulation would have prevented me from submitting "cat /dev/null" as a proposition, with the annotation that this is a program simulating the output of a dead brain.

These are not mathematical problems (well, not all of them). Some are physics, most are algorithmic and a few are really mathematical questions. But things like "the brain" is not a mathematical object and thus has no place in the formulation of a mathematical question.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203695)

Actually it is rather specific. They want you to build a working brain simulator

Define "working brain simulator". Include a complete and definitive set of criteria by which it can be determined whether something is a working brain simulator or not.

Without that definition and those criteria, it's not specific at all.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203841)

You are Alan Turing and I claim my ten pounds.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203409)

What they mean is to nail down equations which can be used to govern and predict brain activity in a similar fashion to the ones we have in physics. Essentially they are saying that Neuroscience needs to be approached from a more quantitative perspective than biological due to its complexity. Ie we can't totally figure out the brain with MRI and microscopes. However, more of this work will be done on computers than chalkboards. Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_neuroscience [wikipedia.org]

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203553)

The first example: "Develop the mathematics of the brain". This covers large parts of computer science, artificial intelligence and psychology. What does "mathematically consistent" mean?

The way I understood it is "develop a mathematical model of consciousness". Something that very [wikipedia.org] smart [wikipedia.org] people have been wondering about for some time.

Re:the art of posing problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203635)

It's true. The DARPA questions are not closed questions, the shape and form of the answers are not clear, and the definition of the terms used in the problem itself are not entirely clear. As questions for mathematicians, these are poorly posed problems.

But taken as problems that will require mathematics, as opposed to problems for mathematicians, these are important questions that need answering. These are questions with application.

In many cases, these questions note a development in theoretical mathematics, and challenges it to be extended to apply to a specific difficult, valuable, unsolved real-world problem.

Unlike the Millennium Prize, the DARPA challenge is not designed around improving our knowledge of pure mathematical theory, and so it's questions are less pure [xkcd.com] than the Millennium Prize. These questions probably won't be solved definitively, or by a single paper. They don't fit the mold of a problem a mathematician will find comfortable.

Re:the art of posing problems (1)

AeiwiMaster (20560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203831)

This is DARPA research so the exact problem formulation is classified. ;-)

Yet another research grant... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203269)

..and most of the challenges have little to do with math. Meanwhile, here's something which could lead to real progress in mathematics (From the Slashdot Firehose):

An anonymous reader writes:

"Cameron Freer [mit.edu] , an instructor in pure mathematics at MIT, is working on an intriguing project called vdash.org [vdash.org] (video from O'Reilly Ignite Boston 4 [youtube.com] ): a math wiki which only allows true theorems to be added! Based on Isabelle [in.tum.de] , a free-software theorem prover, the wiki will state all of known mathematics in a machine-readable language and verify all theorems for correctness, thus providing a knowledge base for interactive proof assistants [wikipedia.org] . In addition to its benefits for education and research, such a project could reveal undiscovered connections between fields of mathematics, thus advancing some fields with no further work being necessary."

link [vdash.org]

Vague questions (1)

jensend (71114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203291)

Hilbert's problems were stated fairly precisely. The Millenium Prize problems have detailed statements written by experts in the fields involved. Most of these DARPA questions could use some clarification as to what they're asking for. Hopefully that will be forthcoming.

Re:Vague questions (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203459)

These are quite old. I did some research into who compiled them, earlier this year I think, and I'm pretty sure I discovered that he was some kind of crank or loon.

Seems perfect for slashdot (1)

Krabbs (1319121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203321)

Here people seem to think they know everything about anything.

DARPA Ethics (2, Insightful)

Ralish (775196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203331)

While solutions to any of these mathematical conundrums would be grand, I'm not sure I'd want to do so in the name of DARPA, or even have any association of my discoveries with DARPA.

At the end of the day, DARPA specialises in technology that is designed to benefit the military, and as a result, is frequently designed for either either killing people, or making it easier to do so. Yes, there's the whole "defence" argument; that the technology will be used for saving lives. But this is a half-truth, the lives being saved are almost always select (only lives belonging to a certain state(s) (the US and potentially its allies in this case)), and often at the cost of other lives.

This can of course degenerate into a whole ethics and morality debate on the value of human life, but ideally, I'd rather such findings published through an academic institute, e.g. a university, that doesn't have any ties to military technology, but rather, a persuasion to applying scientific breakthroughs in the advancement of the common good for humanity as a whole.

I know there have been advancements that DARPA has made that have benefited humanity as a whole, such as the Internet, but keep in mind this was not the primary intent. The Internet turned out to have enormous potential outside the military, but it was military benefits that were the primary focus of the project, and they no doubt got them; the military portion of the Internet split from the public domain and is now a highly classified network, possibly with numerous innovations that are not available to the public.

Re:DARPA Ethics (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203365)

YOU LOWLIFE COMMIE BASTARD

we _are_ defending ourselves in iraq and afghanistan and soon in iran... you know, pre-emptive strikes and all...

Re:DARPA Ethics (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203473)

You also have the problem of whole fields of research popping up which depend on defense money, and then shrink once the DoD shifts its priorities. I specialize in a few minority languages of Russia. Back during the Cold War, the relevant linguistics department at Indiana University Bloomington got a tonne of funding from the Air Force because its work could be connected to Soviet areal studies. Once 1991 and the fall of the USSR came along, most of the funding dried up and most jobs were lost. They never saw a need to always keep up to date with other sources of funding, and now Uralic and Altaic studies in the US are a shadow of what they once were, with European universities outclassing them.

Re:DARPA Ethics (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203631)

While solutions to any of these mathematical conundrums would be grand

It's not always the solutions but the math developed to try and find the solutions that get really interesting. Fermat's Last Theorem was solved not by a proof in a margin but by a combined effort over a century, and the math that resulted was greater than the sum of its parts.

What is created as a result of this challenge may benefit millions of people in ways we never thought possible.

Different intent from Millennium Prize. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203355)

While there are some parallels, the Millenium Prize is a set of Problems. It's a set of specific theorems that are not proven. The challenge is to prove or disprove the theorem (P=NP, Poincare conjecture, Reimann Hypothesis, etc.) It starts with definite propositions that are believed to be true, and challenges proof of those propositions.

The DARPA Challenges is a set of questions that need answering. In a few cases (Reimann Hypothesis, Hodge Conjecture) they overlap. However, the DARPA questions are more typically like: "An Information Theory for Virus Evolution: Can Shannon's theory shed light on this fundamental area of biology?" In the DARPA case, they don't know whether their questions are answerable, or what the answers look like. The challenge is not one of proof, but one of developing new theory.

Those aren't questions (5, Informative)

ghostunit (868434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203371)

They are asking the reader to create entire fields! how lazy of them.

staying focused on almost nothing now difficult (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203413)

greed, fear & ego are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of yOUR dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children, not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080918/ap_on_re_us/tent_cities;_ylt=A0wNcyS6yNJIZBoBSxKs0NUE
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/world/middleeast/03kurdistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080708/cheney_climate.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080805/pl_politico/12308;_ylt=A0wNcxTPdJhILAYAVQms0NUE
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/18/voting.problems/index.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080903/ts_nm/environment_arctic_dc;_ylt=A0wNcwhhcb5It3EBoy2s0NUE
(talk about cowardlly race fixing/bad theater/fiction?) http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/19/news/economy/sec_short_selling/index.htm?cnn=yes

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

'The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

They're not asking for much. (5, Insightful)

jdc180 (125863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203421)

They only want a mathematical model of the brain, a mathematical model of society as a whole, and fundamental laws of biology so they can answer 'why we are here'.

They missed one (1)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203471)

If a train leaves Chicago at 8:30 headed for Denver traveling at 45 MPH...

Re:They missed one (4, Funny)

Jade E. 2 (313290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203605)

Oooh, I remember that one. If a train leaves Chicago at 8:30 headed for Denver traveling at 45 MPH, and at 8:45 it's parent company declares bankruptcy because Congress refused to bail out the bank that owned a controlling stake in them, and it's going the wrong direction due to a glitch in one of the two data centers that handle the entire nations routing, and the train derails in Pennsylvania at 9:00 due to track damage that was never repaired from the last hurricane, killing most of the people on board, where do they bury the survivors?

I can't believe they left that off the list!

Defeat U.S. Imperialism! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203491)

Fuck the War Department! Drive U.S. Imperialists Out of Iraq, Afghanistan!

These aren't individual questions (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203503)

Not like the Millenium Prize problems, certainly. They're broad fields, some of which aren't even primarily mathematical and some of which already have some existing answers. That web page appears to be quoting the DARPA .doc precisely, but it reads as if it were a brief summary of a real RFP.

Just looking at the first few examples:

A predictive theory of the brain? That'll be a fantastic biological breakthrough, but I doubt it'll require any new mathematics.

I'm happy to see that "persistence in stochastic environments" is considered a hot topic by others, too, but they could be a little less vague about what they mean by it. The hyperlinked article there seems unrelated.

Foams, suspensions, gels, liquid crystals, etc. can be modeled with the same conservation equations as Navier-Stokes, just with more complex constitutive laws. Getting those laws right sometimes involves new mathematics (e.g. "homogenization") but often just requires getting better experimental measurements of the material you're interested in.

"Biological Quantum Field Theory" sounds like another "we've got the right algorithms but just need more biological data to scale them up with" situation, but maybe this is a case where the algorithms don't yet scale optimally?

"Duality in Mathematics" includes still-developing fields... but the answer to "Can it be extended to develop principled computational techniques where duality and geometry are the basis for novel algorithms?" is "Yes, and it has been for at least a decade or two."

What are the Fundamental Laws of Biology? (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203507)

1 Eat
2 shit
3 die

Or, if you are an underpants gnome:

1. Eat, shit, die
2. ???
3. Profit

And to answer the question above it:

Settle the Smooth Poincare Conjecture in Dimension 4. The Poincare Conjecture in Pantene's new Dimension 4 shampoo smooths out all stubborn theories in cosmology to unlock the secret of "dark energy" and give a depth to your space-time.

Re:What are the Fundamental Laws of Biology? (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203557)

Hating to reply to myself but...

What is the role of homotopy theory in the classical, geometric, and quantum Langlands programs?

The role of homotopy theory in the classical, geometric and quantum Langlands programs is to teach fashion sense to the locals of the Langlands. Ensure their hair is styled in a manner that is both masculine and sensitive. Supply shirts with overly large collars, splashed with bright colours. Fragrant and condition the Langlanders skin to be soft to the touch. Therefore, the role of homotopy theory is to give the Langlanders a Queer eye for the straight guy makeover.

Did they get any of my favorites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25203595)

Nothing about a northbound train leaving at 10:00?

Or, maybe, Alice can't sit next to Bill, Charlie is wearing a red shirt, Dale won't eat vegetables, Elroy has incontinence issues, and Frank sucks at photoshop. Based on this, which one is left handed?

Re:Did they get any of my favorites? (2, Funny)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203793)

The best I've heard is:

If Carol has 5 oranges, and
Ted has 7 apples, and
Sue has 3 bananas, then

(wait for it)....

How many nuts does Bill have?

Two words... (1)

Redpill82 (1366625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203627)

Fuzzy Math

Cool! (3, Funny)

Kj0n (245572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203767)

Now I know what to do this evening.

No solve NP complete? (3, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25203815)

I'm quite disappointed that they didn't include the general solution to an NP complete problem in their list.

I'd like to be the top travelling salesman in the world, damnit!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...