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In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You
Crooked Timber.org ^ | May 30. 2012 | cosma

Posted on 10/18/2012 7:39:52 PM PDT by Nachum

Attention conservation notice: Over 7800 words about optimal planning for a socialist economy and its intersection with computational complexity theory. This is about as relevant to the world around us as debating whether a devotee of the Olympian gods should approve of transgenic organisms. (Or: centaurs, yes or no?) Contains mathematical symbols (uglified and rendered slightly inexact by HTML) but no actual math, and uses Red Plenty mostly as a launching point for a tangent.

There’s lots to say about Red Plenty as a work of literature; I won’t do so. It’s basically a work of speculative fiction, where one of the primary pleasures is having a strange world unfold in the reader’s mind. More than that, it’s a work of science fiction, where the strangeness of the world comes from its being reshaped by technology and scientific ideas—- here, mathematical and economic ideas.

Red Plenty is also (what is a rather different thing) a work of scientist fiction, about the creative travails of scientists. The early chapter, where linear programming breaks in upon the Kantorovich character, is one of the most true-to-life depictions I’ve encountered of the experiences of mathematical inspiration and mathematical work. (Nothing I will ever do will be remotely as important or beautiful as what the real Kantorovich did, of course.) An essential part of that chapter, though, is the way the thoughts of the Kantorovich character split between his profound idea, his idealistic political musings, and his scheming about how to cadge some shoes, all blind to the incongruities and ironies.

(Excerpt) Read more at crookedtimber.org ...


TOPICS: Politics
KEYWORDS: optimization; soviet; union
Optimal... hmmmm. I wonder if President Obama is familiar with the works of Kantorovich.
1 posted on 10/18/2012 7:39:52 PM PDT by Nachum
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To: Nachum

I didn’t actually read the whole article but that never stops we Freepers from jumping into the conversation.

I just wanted to point out that there does exist a computer that runs a complex but comprehensible algorithm that will compute the optimum quantity, type and price of all the goods and services required or desired by society.

Surprisingly it is not a digital computer. Its the other kind.

It’s an analog computer and we in the trade call it THE MARKET.


2 posted on 10/18/2012 8:04:33 PM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: Nachum

WTF? Just the way this is written, is this some kind of creative writing project?


3 posted on 10/18/2012 8:35:07 PM PDT by 92nina
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To: Nachum
optimal planning for a socialist economy

Confucius say, Socialist economy like four dead Americans -- not optimal.

4 posted on 10/18/2012 8:42:09 PM PDT by kevao (Is your ocean any lower than it was four years ago?)
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