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Of Ships and Sails and Ceiling Wax...

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Conner McCloud


This has been a hellacious couple of weeks. One assignment after another after another. They have a real knack for drowning me in work just when I start to get excited about a personal project.

My favorite assignment is the final project for my Algorithms class. There are three parts: the overall algorithm, preliminary code, and functional code. The first was submitted prior to Thanksgiving, the second on Monday, and the last part is due next week sometime. Without going into too much detail, we came up with a graph representation of the problem, and found a solution that solved it in O(e lg n) time [where e approaches n^2 in the worst case]. We submitted this, and got to work on the preliminary code. We got the algorithm back yesterday: full marks. This despite the fact that this problem is NP Complete. Now, I don't fully understand that subject, but from what I gather if my algorithm is correct, I not only go down in the Computer Science History, I get a rather substantial amount of money.

I'm sure you'll forgive my scepticism.

So we settled on simulated annealing. Which is interesting, because its nothing, at all, like anything we've discussed in class. We're just now covering the subject of NP Completeness, and that's the end of the road. This project is completely tanjent to everything we've done so far, and its worth 20% of the final grade. Not that I mind, I've implemented simulated annealing before. But I was rather proud of my little algorithm, and to just get rid of it hurts. On the inside.

In a similar turn of events, it turns out the method I was going to use for my terrain renderer is a little out of my league as well. In the sense that its not mathematically possible for my method to work, at all. I have a solution in mind, but haven't had the time to implement it, damn them.

I have, however, had time to implement my relay. [Mostly because its a graded assignment, but a win's a win]. It works like a champ. Hotter than all hell, but a small fan [ganked from a PC power supply] fixed that right up. Unfortunately, my coworkers have had almost as much success with the H-Bridge, and we would all prefer a solid state solution if we can get it. Which means my poor relay [like my poor algorithm] will likely be trashed. There's still a chance of failure, though, so there's still hope.

And in my final offshoot, I get to build a transformer next year. No, not the lame kind. The bad ass kind. I'm not 100% clear on the details, but it has to crawl down a 4" pipe, and then turn into a giant rake that cleans a pipe leading out of a septic tank. I was going to call it 'Septicon', but I think that's a little too close to 'Decepticon'. Either way, I have a logo design all planned out. Its in the basic style of the picture on Optimus Prime's shoulder, but its a toilet. If I can make it small enough, it will be my new Avatar.

So, too summarize:
Discovered impossible algorithm ->
discovered impossible equation ->
built a relay for a robot ->
going to build a robot ->
summarization of the above

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