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Travelling Salesman, Thriller Set In a World Where P=NP

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the very-serious-faces-throughout dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 165

mikejuk writes with this excerpt from I Programmer: "A movie that features science and technology is always welcome, but is it not often we have one that focuses on computer science. Travelling Salesman is just such a rare movie. As you can guess from its name, it is about the Travelling Salesman problem, more precisely about the P=NP question. Written and directed by Timothy Lanzone, and produced by Fretboard Pictures, it should premiere on June 16. As the blurb to the movie trailer says: 'Travelling Salesman is an intellectual thriller about four of the world's smartest mathematicians hired by the U.S. government to solve the most elusive problem in computer science history — P vs. NP. The four have jointly created a "system" which could be the next major advancement for humanity or the downfall of society.'"

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165 comments

It is offcial (2, Insightful)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about 2 years ago | (#39796499)

P=NP is now a buzzword, please add to bullshit bingo card.

Re:It is offcial (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797919)

N = 1

There you go. I solved it. Now where's my million bucks?!

Re:It is offcial (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39798377)

I'll hold off a bit on that. However once I hear hipsters using it in casual conversations at parties, or new age psychics explaining their abilities with it, then I'll know that P=NP is the new string theory.

Wasn't Numb3rs cancelled? (0)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | about 2 years ago | (#39796501)

How long is this movie and will it have keen illuminating animated diagrams?

Re:Wasn't Numb3rs cancelled? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796539)

How long is this movie and will it have keen illuminating animated diagrams?

Unless that word is being preceded by "Commander", do not use it.

Re:Wasn't Numb3rs cancelled? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798039)

Nonsense. Keen is a perfectly valid prefix for slicing or piercing weapons, although a little superfluous if you have the improved critical faet for that weapon type.

Maybe they should solve (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796533)

How to spell "traveling" first

In a world... (5, Informative)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 years ago | (#39796555)

The trailer is:

"In a world where P = NP... cryptography becomes meaningless."

If you didn't hear that in Don LaFontaine's voice you are a bad person.

Robert Downey, Sr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796657)

I heard Robert Downey (Sr.) from Boogie Bights.

Is that like YP !=MP?

You, Your Problem isn't My Problem?

What, no Boogie Nights [imdb.com] fans here?

Re:In a world... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796755)

I would've gone with "When everything you thought you knew about NP... is wrong"

Re:In a world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797381)

Because of the day when cryptography becomes meaningless, I'm staying away from P2P encrypted backup services.

Re:In a world... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#39797675)

I heard it in Bill Woodson's voice from Superfriends. "Meanwhile, in a world where P = NP..."

Re:In a world... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39798909)

Aquaman: "We'll never catch The Traveling Salesman! Not even the Bat Computer can match the efficiency of his route!"
Superman: "Unless we can enhance the Bat Computer by using my Super Spinning to change the vibrations of space in the area..."
Batman: "... to duplicate The Traveling Salesman's powers! It just might work!"

Announcer: "Superman begins to spin faster than light, causing P to equal NP!"

I'd watch that episode.

Re:In a world... (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#39798573)

The trailer is:

"In a world where P = NP... cryptography becomes meaningless."

Which of course is not true. The algorithm might still be O(n^100). While polynomial, this would still be practically intractable for moderately large n.

Hey. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796579)

I'm someone such a one does whatever I pleases. I fart on your property as I please, and farts fly out of my asshole at ridiculous speeds!

How come everyone in the movie is white? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796597)

Seriously.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796631)

Would it still be racist if the movie was filmed in Japan and everyone in the movie was Japanese?

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796689)

Your question is irrelevant since it didn't happen that way. The movie was filmed in a country that claims to be a melting pot and yet the "4 smartest ppl in the world" are a bunch of skinny white guys.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (-1, Flamebait)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 2 years ago | (#39796773)

Hawking, Yudkowsky, Stallman, Dawkins.

OK, they're not all skinny, but still, QED.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797965)

Eliezer Yudkowsky is smarter than the other three. He said so himself.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798679)

Seriously, Stallman instead of Knuth?!

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (5, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#39796787)

Intelligence is largely controlled by early childhood educational opportunity, so it would be unsurprising if the 4 smartest were white.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796849)

And we know that Asians aren't known for that or anything... Really, it wouldn't have been shocking to have a Japanese guy, or an Indian guy, or heck, maybe a woman.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796933)

Don't bother, their neckbeards repel any questioning of their privilege in society.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798491)

Woman? LOL

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#39798831)

And we know that Asians aren't known for that or anything... Really, it wouldn't have been shocking to have a Japanese guy, or an Indian guy, or heck, maybe a woman.

The way the movie industry works, the cast would be three white guys and a blind black lesbian [tvtropes.org] smarter than all of them.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798849)

She'd also have to have some magic or spiritual thing going on.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (4, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#39797161)

I often wonder why people invoke racism so often when it comes to these issues when the reality is... disadvantaged white kids often fare pretty poorly too. If one of your strongest indicators, do you really need race to explain why, generation after generation, racial dmeographics shift less than we "would like".

Yes the smartest in this society are probably mostly a bunch of white guys. Not because being white makes you better, or smarter, but because there are more white people who can give their children the opportunity to advance. Which isn't to say that being white people gave them that ability, but just that, the "initial condition" that we started with has done more to influence the outcome than we want to give it credit.

In short, I often feel racism is used as an excuse to deny the lack of real mobility within society....because if you don't think race/genetics is a major factor, then how do you explain the "lack of progress" along racial lines, if there is very high mobility? Seems to me it may be the lack of real mobility.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797465)

This is a Euro/American-centric view.

There are billions of Asians of all regions (India, China, Japan, Korea, etc.) and they have exceptional talent as well.

Your own personal experience and privilege are blinding you to the truth that the media we consume is subject to the very same biases you contain in yourself. It becomes self-validating. You're in an echo chamber of people claiming the same tripe you are spouting here.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#39798035)

I think you are the one missing the point. The context of the discussion was about character placement in a film thats supposed to take place HERE. What goes on in other places doesn't matter in this context, in fact, its explicitly irrelevant.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798439)

an intellectual thriller about four of the world's smartest mathematicians

You are the one missing it.

The movie is targeting its audience by casting how it did, it isn't trying to reflect the reality of our planet and its talent. You are trying to argue that it is representative of reality when it is actually in the media echo chamber that you live your life in.

It is explicitly relevant because it says "world". And because of your own biases (not a bad thing) you don't realize that the media you consume is presenting a distortion of reality.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#39798817)

However it does not say "the world's four smartest mathematicians." It says "four of the world's smartest mathematicians."

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (5, Insightful)

rs1n (1867908) | about 2 years ago | (#39798185)

I often wonder why people invoke racism so often when it comes to these issues when the reality is... disadvantaged white kids often fare pretty poorly too. If one of your strongest indicators, do you really need race to explain why, generation after generation, racial dmeographics shift less than we "would like".

Yes the smartest in this society are probably mostly a bunch of white guys. Not because being white makes you better, or smarter, but because there are more white people who can give their children the opportunity to advance. Which isn't to say that being white people gave them that ability, but just that, the "initial condition" that we started with has done more to influence the outcome than we want to give it credit.

In short, I often feel racism is used as an excuse to deny the lack of real mobility within society....because if you don't think race/genetics is a major factor, then how do you explain the "lack of progress" along racial lines, if there is very high mobility? Seems to me it may be the lack of real mobility.

The lack of real mobility is a myth. I can say this because I come from a family that emigrated and came to the United States and started off on welfare, living in government projects, and going to very poorly supported schools. What made the difference for me were parents to valued education and pushed their kids to go beyond what was considered average. They convinced me, my siblings, and themselves, that the government handouts were temporary aids for us, and that continuing to live off the government when we have the ability to eventually make it on our own is shameful. My parents were farmers and made it as far as completing elementary school back in their homeland. So it isn't as if they had a great start, either. Yet my siblings and I, on the other hand, completed college, and I completed my Ph. D. in mathematics -- and we all went through public schools prior to college. If I were an exception, then we might call it "lack of mobility." The problem I see is that our government has made it too easy for those who have to rely on its social programs to do it for so long. For many, it is much easier to accept a very modest, but not-uncomfortable lifestyle of welfare and food stamps rather than to make an honest effort to move out of their current conditions.

Many immigrants who come to the US will have very similar stories of how they or their parents moved to the US with hopes of finding better opportunities. They often come from places where the conditions are so terrible that even the living in government projects and relying on the US welfare system is heavenly in comparison. Yet they do not fall into the welfare trap and eventually contribute to society like the rest of US citizens who were born and raised here. What they have that a lot of folks who are "stuck on welfare" is a drive. In my own parents' case, what drove them was their belief that if they could escape a communist government (that sought to execute anyone who defied it) by risking everything on a 2-piston boat set off into unknown waters, then they can certainly get out of welfare. This drive is lacking in a lot of families who are currently relying on government programs (I'm referring to families in which welfare reliance occurs for generations).

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#39798473)

I didn't say there is no mobility, just that it is less than we would like. Even with very little mobility, you will always have edge cases.

Also, there are more issues than just being poor. If I were placing odds, I would give a person from a poor family with well educated parents much better odds than someone from a reasonably better family with uneducated (and I don't mean grade level completed so much as equivalency... I mean ability to read/write/do basic math maybe some algebra)

Of course, its also a matter of what you are taught and social attitudes. Did you know that the #1 predictor of a childs sucess in math is not, in fact, any of these factors but whether or not they believe that math is a skill that can be learned or a talent that is inborn.

Seriously.... just believing that you can learn it if you put the effort in is it. Which makes some amount of sense, if you don't believe you can learn it, then why would you waste your time studying it? Of course... where do we get attitudes like that? Do you think a kid is more or less likely to believe that he can learn math if the parents who raised him believed that it was an inborn talent?

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798173)

You have either been misinformed or you just made that up. Your statement only makes sense if you are talking about some measurable kind of intelligence, in which case you are talking about IQ (it is nearly impossible to devise a test of mental skills that does not also measure IQ). There is a large hereditary component to IQ as extensively documented by twins-reared-apart studies. There is also a significant impact of environment, but the way in which the environment impacts IQ is not known, except for avoiding overtly harmful things like if you lock the child in a closet for a few years or provide completely insufficient nutrition.

What is known is that IQ is not much impacted by any of the things that would seem obvious, like education, access to books, supportive parents or stimulating childhood environment. Smart people tend to have those things in their upbringing because their parents are also smart, so they are more likely to have the money and the desire to provide those things, but it is not a causal relationship. There is a significant impact of environment, but it is most certainly not largely down to early childhood educational opportunity as documented by intervention studies.

If there was a known sure-fire way to increase people's intelligence (in the sense of IQ) from a simpleton to genius-level, don't you think everyone would know about it and immediately make sure to provide that for their children? We would all be geniuses if that were the case, or at least everyone who grew up with good access to education should then be a genius as an adult. The world I'm living in certainly does not support that hypothesis.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798189)

Intelligence is largely controlled by early childhood educational opportunity...

When I was a kid, I recall the pointless gifted and talented programs and the nightmare that was the private school people tried sending me to. I refused to sit in alphabetical order during lunch and their other fun socipathic activities, and no doubt proved to everyone I was an idiot.

Telling people their whole life is determined by the first couple years is a lie. It has nothing to do with what's best for the kid or increasing their intelligence. It robs the kid of having a genuine reason of their own to care about learning. Just an extension of the mindless, but capable factory worker that regular schools produce. So, I probably would've been an academic drone instead, or whatever they decided to tell me to be.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (1)

ad0gg (594412) | about 2 years ago | (#39798789)

I disagree with this statement. Intelligence is mostly controlled by your genes, it isn't even disputed in the science community. Has nothing to do with how you were raised. There's a bunch of studies on adopted kids and twins that were raised apart. No one ever likes to talk it about because for certain reasons i won't bring up because this type science has been used to commit some of worst crimes against humanity in modern history. Also IQ doesn't mean successful, being successful has to do with your upbringing and education. Smartest guy in the US is a bouncer [wikipedia.org] after dropping out of college. He grew up in poverty and a broken home.

The 2006 edition of Assessing adolescent and adult intelligence by Alan S. Kaufman and Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger reports correlations of 0.86 for identical twins raised together compared to 0.76 for those raised apart and 0.47 for siblings.[42]

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#39797751)

Your question is irrelevant since it didn't happen that way. The movie was filmed in a country that claims to be a melting pot and yet the "4 smartest ppl in the world" are a bunch of skinny white guys.

You're talking about an extremely small set. Let's reduce it further to just one: "The smartest person in the world". Now are you going to be upset if this person isn't representative of every culture?

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (2)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 2 years ago | (#39797821)

Admittedly, this may be the result of my Western upbringing, but I think it might be accurate to portray the greatest living mathematicians as white -- with possibly an Indian or Asian or two. For the past few hundred years, most of the greatest mathematicians [fabpedigree.com] have been skinny white guys*. If you go back to the foundations of algebra, you do find some Persians (arguably "white") and some Indian guys. Given that the movie appears to be a US-centric one, it would have been pretty easy to throw in an Asian/Indian dude. Against my better judgment, I will go out on a limb and say that the African-American and Latino communities in the United States have not exactly produced a lot of notable mathematicians.

But I would agree that this looks like pretty lousy casting. Partly because most "white" guys in the US have shown declining math scores and partly because those dudes aren't nearly homely enough. Almost without exception, all the seriously capable math nerds I know have bad complexions, bad beards, and thick glasses. The trailer should also feature a scene where each of the smart guys is living at home with their mother.

* In the case of Kurt Gödel, very skinny.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (1)

darthdavid (835069) | about 2 years ago | (#39796723)

Your point is correct but you've chosen a pretty hilariously ironic example to use given the deeply rooted racist tendencies of Japanese society...

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (1, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | about 2 years ago | (#39797905)

Would it still be racist if the movie was filmed in Japan and everyone in the movie was Japanese?

All Japanese movies are required by law to have Godzilla in them and thus everyone would not be Japanese.

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (2, Interesting)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | about 2 years ago | (#39797261)

This really annoys me. You can't accept that they're white by chance? As in, they just happened to cast those actors? Having worked in the advertising industry (shudder) I can tell you how MADDENING it is when you've got a bunch of really good takes or photographs but you've got to discard them because you've been told by some bleeding heart retard that you need that one minority in there, who just so happens cannot pose in front of a camera to save their life. This leads to lots of post processing and other dicking around just to appease people like you, not to mention the subtle racism of including a single minority there in the first place. A great example: any number of car ads where the entire family is white and there's a token black boy in the backseat. Why yes that makes complete sense! Why not make the whole family black instead? Oh no, that would be *too many* minorities, they're called minorities for a reason afterall!

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798869)

Why is this modded flamebait? I've been in similar situations-- had to use the shittiest monologue video (some talking head thing for an auto spot) because it fit the profile/specs.

However, I think if you're in the ad industry it's called "fitting the demographic" and not "appeasing.... the bleeding heart retard(s)".

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#39797579)

I'm genuinely not sure how to exactly one's mind would have to work to even have noticed this without somebody else mentioning it to them (which in turn would raise the question of where the previous person heard it, and so on... where the causal chain ultimately reveals one sick-minded puppy).

Do you ordinarily go out of your way just to correlate any kind of entirely coincidental absence of a minority with the implication of deliberate racism, or is this just a one-time thing?

Re:How come everyone in the movie is white? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798553)

Oh, oh, I know this one! It's because they don't anticipate releasing the movie in many Samoan movie theaters (for example).

In a world where movie trailers rock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796667)

...how do they manage to make one so boring?

Cryptography? (1, Informative)

Chemisor (97276) | about 2 years ago | (#39796697)

Since when is cryptography NP? Cracking any encrypted message takes a well-defined amount of time, derived from available computing power and the length and complexity of the key. Faster computers will help you here. Better factoring algorithms may help you here. But P=NP will not help you crack anything.

Re:Cryptography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796765)

If there was a miracle algorithm, you could use it to prove the feasibility of cracking the cryptography.

Re:Cryptography? (0)

alendit (1454311) | about 2 years ago | (#39796809)

NP can also take a well-defined amount of time, it is not the point of it. But you are absoluelly right, that factorisation algorithms do not have anything to do with P=NP, since the problem is not proven to be NP-complete.

Re:Cryptography? (5, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | about 2 years ago | (#39797113)

Factoring is NP, since we can verify the results in polynomial time. It's not NP-complete, so finding a polynomial algorithm for factoring doesn't necesarily mean that there's one for 3-SAT or TSP, but if we find a polynomial algorithm for TSP, then there is one for factoring.

Re:Cryptography? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#39797383)

It means there should be, in theory, an algorithm that is substantially better than exponential explosion, which, in the case of long-number, almost-prime cryptography, means something substantially better than "try all possibilities", which is where we are now.

Re:Cryptography? (5, Informative)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#39796839)

It's uncertain what complexity class factorization in, but the best known techniques are not in P. P=NP therefore implies there is indeed a 'better' factorization algorithm. And so, you can crack encryption faster.

Re:Cryptography? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797943)

So much confusion here. You are correct that P=NP is theoretically relevant to factorising numbers because, as you point out, factorising numbers is somewhere between P and NP, so if P=NP then factorising is also P. The OP is correct first that complexity theory isn't terribly relevant to cryptography because considerations of worst case or even average case complexity say nothing about any specific key - you have no way to prove that the key you've got is actually worst-case. Complexity theory is never directly relevant to a specific computation anyway, because it concerns what happens as the input size approaches infinity, which is not something that can happen on finite computers.

The basic premise of the movie is correct in that if someone comes up with a practically useful algorithm that proves that P=NP, then that could have far reaching consequences. Proving that P=NP is really just an irrelevant theoretical detail for those consequences, because the consequences would be exactly the same if someone came up with an algorithm that could solve any practical size NP problem in a short amount of cycles, even if that algorithm was theoretically not polynomial time.

Re:Cryptography? (1)

Ozan (176854) | about 2 years ago | (#39796941)

Cracking a key is NP hard, and with sufficiently large keys you can not amass enough computing power to crack them. If you can convert it to a P problem the computing time is reduced to practical dimensions. I think this film is about a sidestep ('melt the sand') that converts NP problems to P problems.

Re:Cryptography? (1)

Captain Segfault (686912) | about 2 years ago | (#39797007)

Cracking a key is NP hard

No it isn't. It might not be in P, but it almost certainly is not NP hard. (Barring something like P=NP that would imply everything in P is NP hard)

Re:Cryptography? (2)

WeirdAlchemy (2530168) | about 2 years ago | (#39797211)

He probably made the mistake lots of people make, which is to think "NP hard" is similar to saying "rocket-science hard", where NP is just an adjective describing "hard". People don't realize that "NP-hard" is itself a formal class of problems that is not necessarily equivalent to NP. It's not his fault... its a horribly confusingly named set of concepts.

Re:Cryptography? (1)

gv250 (897841) | about 2 years ago | (#39798545)

(Barring something like P=NP that would imply everything in P is NP hard)

That would be cool. I know, let's make a movie about the consequences of P=NP!

Re:Cryptography? (1)

hlavac (914630) | about 2 years ago | (#39796985)

You are talking about brute force, high bound on the work required to crack something. Any respectable encryption algorithm sets these reasonably high (like, use all computers on earth for thousands of years...). The problem is there may be shortcuts revealed thru cryptanalysis based on some properties of the cipher. And these are extremely valuable to certain people/agencies if they remain secret... these may involve such class of a problem. I can see a lot of material for a thriller plot there...

Re:Cryptography? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797405)

It was called "Sneakers", and starred Robert Redford.

Re:Cryptography? (3, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | about 2 years ago | (#39797041)

Cryptography relies on problems that are very hard to solve without a key, but when you have the key are easy. NP problems have the property that if you know the solution, it's easy to prove that you have the solution, but finding a solution is otherwise really hard. Take factoring for example, which is an NP problem - take two really big primes, and multiply them. Give the result away to anyone who asks. If the primes are big enough, they won't be able to figure out your original primes, but anyone who has either of the original primes can find the other with ease. RSA is dependant on that property. If I can find those two primes quickly from just public key, I've cracked RSA. If NP=P, then factoring is no longer a hard problem.

Re:Cryptography? (2)

dominious (1077089) | about 2 years ago | (#39797067)

But P=NP will not help you crack anything.

IANAC but just what I remember from my CS degree, factorization is NP-complete, if it can be simplified to polynomial then maybe it's easier to crack something (public key systems that rely on the complexity of factorization like RSA) ? Shor's algorithm [wikipedia.org] that works on a quantum computer does make it polynomial and it says in the link that it will have major implications to security schemes that rely on factorization (such as RSA).

I wonder if this movie is related to that (transforming sand to glass could be relevant to how Shor transformed the problem using the quantum Fourier transform)

Re:Cryptography? (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39797715)

Factorization is most likely not NP complete. Rather, it is in the intersection of NP and coNP, and it is widely believed that no NP complete problems are in coNP, for reasons similar to the reasons it is believed that no NP complete problems are in P. It is also unlikely that there is a "complete" class for the intersection of NP and coNP, which casts some doubt on the hardness of integer factorization.

Of course, if P=NP, integer factorization is definitely a theoretically feasible problem; this does not mean that it can be easily solved in practice, though. Maybe the best algorithm for integer factorization runs in O(n^100) time -- polynomial but still beyond the reach of any reasonable computer. P=NP would not imply that cryptography is impossible; rather, it would require some new definitions of security and entirely different approaches to cryptography.

Re:Cryptography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797243)

Sigh, if you own a CS degree, just burn it please.

Re:Cryptography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797395)

Since when is cryptography NP?

Not allt Crypto is in NP, but RSA is.

Cracking any encrypted message takes a well-defined amount of time, derived from available computing power and the length and complexity of the key.

Not exactly. just take a look at the wep encryption. it started as infeasible, then dangerous, and now it is basically cleartext, but we haven't advanced *that* much in computing power. They found bugs in the algorithm.
In different ways, cryptography experts try to find bugs in the algorithms. This may means bugs in the underlying math.
Now, lots of encryption algorithms make assumptions, such as "factorization of big numbers is really difficoult", but if we prove that factorization is actually really simple, the whole algorithms fall apart. That's why P=NP would kill RSA (but not others).

Faster computers will help you here. Better factoring algorithms may help you here. But P=NP will not help you crack anything.

Do you actually know anything about cryptography?
If P=NP then it means we can factorize any number almost instantly. There are a lot of ways to reconduct a problem to an other one.
once we find ONE problem NP-HARD and can reconduct it to P, *all other* NP-HARD problems can be automatically be found to have a corresponding problem in P.
You just miss a lot of knowledge in complexity theory.

Re:Cryptography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797807)

NP: Nondeterministic Polynomial => if I can guess right, I can prove my guess correct in polynomial time.

Encryption: plaintext + key* => cyphertext
Decryption: cyphertext + key* => plaintext
Cryptanalysis: cyphertext + ? => plaintext

Any useful decryption algorithm must finish in a reasonable amount of time when I have the key, so cryptanalysis cannot be harder than NP (once we're past unicity distance), so if P = NP there must be an algorithm that can decrypt the cyphertext without the key in polynomial time. Granted, polynomial time doesn't necessarily mean a short time, but it puts things on much more of the same playing field than when you get to mutliply the attacker's work while merely adding to the defender's simply by adding bits to the key.

*The two keys will be the same in a symetric algorithm, and different-but-related in an assymetric algorithm, but that's not actually relevant here.

Re:Cryptography? (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#39799027)

You forget that there is no way to decide in polynomial time if the text you got is the plaintext. That's why the one-time pad is provably secure: Every text of the same length could be the plaintext, and without knowing the key, you cannot distinguish between "Attack tomorrow 10:00" and "We should surrender!!"

Re:Cryptography? (4, Informative)

Doubting Thomas (72381) | about 2 years ago | (#39797925)

In cryptography you're looking for a problem that is asymmetric. NP is your ideal, but as a lot of other people have pointed out, practical cryptographic algorithms are a not ideal. IBM actually had a cryptography algorithm based on the TSP once, but they must have found a flaw because it was never popularized.

A lot of people confuse NP and/or 'intractable' with 'impossible'. They do not mean the same thing. Intractable problems are often practically impossible, if for instance it would require more mass than the entire universe to calculate the answer. But since our understanding of physics is incomplete, we can't say for sure how big a 'perfect' computer you'd need to solve a certain problem, so you can't categorically say that it's impossible. All you can say is "we can't do it today." or "That's a problem for my grandchildren to deal with... hopefully."

Remember that for certain inputs an NP-Complete problem can be solved on the back of an envelope. If I tell you to place a dot in the middle of the envelope, and one more or less near each corner, you can find the shortest path in a few minutes. It's an NP complete problem, but it's still trivial to solve. NP is not a magic wall. It all depends on the context (ie, the inputs).

IBM (2)

lpp (115405) | about 2 years ago | (#39796897)

With the constant switches to a blue screen with the word 'simplified', I was primed for an IBM commercial close.

I was excited when I read the ./ article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39796939)

But then I watched the trailer.

Pi (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39796955)

Is this the next Pi?

It's like a sequel to Sneakers (5, Insightful)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 2 years ago | (#39797309)

Which was pretty rad.

Re:It's like a sequel to Sneakers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797467)

My voice is my passport. Verify me.

Re:It's like a sequel to Sneakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798945)

I want peace on Earth and goodwill towards Man.

Re:It's like a sequel to Sneakers (1)

noahwh (1545231) | about 2 years ago | (#39798459)

Sneakers was a feature length film with a 35 million dollar budget and a cast of A-list actors.
This is an 80 minute independent film starring the guy who played Submarine Captain Jim in Mega Piranha.

The Mine Sweeper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797717)

Reminds me of the mine sweeper movie.

Well, that looks pretty awful (1, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | about 2 years ago | (#39797837)

The P=NP aspect is just geekiness. You didn't solve it, and the movie had better not be about solving it. That would be stupid.

You can, however, make a thriller using that as a MacGuffin. The better you know the math, the more rich-sounding the dialogue around the MacGuffin will be, but it must remain a MacGuffin. It's the Lost Ark from Raiders, or the Maltese Falcon. Either is a fine thriller, with interesting characters and snappy dialogue.

You never want to read too much into a trailer, but I'm not seeing much of either of those here. It put way too much on its surface: the blue wash to look cold, the deep dissonant chords on the piano, the "oh my god this is the end of the world" dialogue. I got no sense that I might care about the characters, or that they might do anything interesting or distinctive.

Geeks love a movie where their geekiness gets tickled. Everybody loves a movie about themselves, and getting that aspect right makes the characters feel more real. I'm a geek. But I'm also more than a geek. I'd rather not be patronized, and the one thing I know for certain is that you didn't actually do anything about P=NP. Use it as background for solid performances, deep characterizations, and interesting visual composition, not instead of it.

Maybe I'm wrong. Trailers are often not representative of the movie, and maybe there's good, non-trite dialogue in the rest of it. But I'm not hopeful.

Can someone help me out? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798501)

What's the mod for "-1 Wet Blanket" or "-1 Excessively Cynical"?

"Overrated" seems not to encompass the necessary degree of opprobrium.

Thanks in advance!

Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39797951)

It probably would have been better to spell "traveling" correctly.

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39798123)

Male character, mid 50s, mustache, pointing at a security camera, screaming... "Consequences will never be the same!!!"
It should've been in the trailer.

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