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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What is the fastest car in the world?

In the article, no answer is given to the question from the title. The title serves as an example of a problem that cannot be sufficiently solved, and as such, it may and will lead to endless discussions.

Similarly, we cannot reliably decide whether Windows or Linux rules or whether the latest U.S. presidency candidate outmatches the previous one.

At best, the debates on given topics may lead to the enlightenment of participating parties, given they care about learning, which is seldomly the case.

(Still, catfights between die-hard fans may inspire sociologists or psychologists to publish new studies on damnable human nature.)

Since this article intends to focus on problem-solving, the output does not deal with answers; the output outline more questions to ask when dealing with unknown problems.

So what about the fastest car in the world?

First of all, the task seems rather vague. Do we even know what does it mean fastest? What does it mean car? What does it mean world?

What about a car, loaded in a spacecraft, flying to Mars? There is no doubt that such a vehicle moves fast, but no one would probably feel satisfied with such a winner.

The common opinion would express a counter-argument in the following fashion, "Geesh, everybody knows what a car is. There is no need to define such elementary stuff."

Unfortunately, for the rigorous and correct answer, the definition of the examined car is essential. Besides ordinary four-wheeled cars, the world offers high-tech race vehicles or even specially designed speed-record-attacking cars that drive flat and straight surfaces of salt deserts.

So, what defines our car? What if the rocket is attached to its roof, overcoming all speed limits and serving as a one-way suicide instrument as was already tested by one crafty madman?

Moreover, the external conditions should be taken into calculations. In theory, people can build a long vacuum tunnel with a perfect road; in afterthought, the artificial environment may hugely affect the experimental results.

The possibilities are endless, at least on paper. In real life, no one would take them into account.

But since people cannot distinguish between feasible and impossible, everyone puts one's bottom line differently.

There is much more to say on the topic, but the message is clear. Without exact boundaries, no one can confidently decide what the fastest car in the world is.

What people take for granted is, more often than not, just a misunderstanding. For instance, is jumping to water safe? See, another question with no good answer.

Of course, children keep jumping into the water all day, and their parents do not mind. But what if the water were frozen?

"But typically, water exists in a liquid state!"

Says who? Certainly not the Eskimos.

For a general audience, such a rebuttal feels like trolling, but correct thinking requires a meticulous mindset.

With too loosened boundaries, the solution may be incorrect in edge cases, which, no matter how unlikely, will backfire eventually. The famous Murphy's laws cover it.

Murphy's First Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Now, from the mathematical perspective, every problem fits a simple line:

input -> output

With knowledge of all necessary values that affect results (no less, no more) and with a function that maps the input into correct output, no unsolvable problem exists.

If the opposite situation happened and the Universe was based, somewhere deep inside, on randomness, then all science would be shaken, and unpredictable magic would rule the world.

Thus, every problem needs to define a complete set of input parameters. If one is missing, the function does not guarantee the referential transparency - i.e., for the same input, we can obtain different outputs.

Now, when encountered a task, not solved before, the methodology consists of simple recursive steps:

1. Can the problem be solved?
2. If not, divide it into smaller parts!
3. Can the smaller part be solved?
4. If not, bring it to line 2!
5. If yes, return the solution!

Obviously, the problem lacks a solution when some of its parts cannot be broken down into smaller, solvable chunks. Such a situation represents the limit of human technology.

On the other hand, note that problems overlapping the reasonable frame of human computing capacity are solvable, even though they last millions of years to compute.

As aforementioned, to decide which car is the fastest in the world, the experimental race needs precise specifications. And even then, we can conclude that the final result guarantees certain correctness only under these specifications.

For instance, if the experiment's temperature is set to 20°C, the winning car at -20°C may or may not stay the same.

But not only that! When taken into consideration the complexity of the physical world and our inability to measure all variables properly, we should not take our results for granted.

What if one of participating cars performed sub-optimally due to an error of a driver or maintenance technician?

With such a level of uncertainty, people are doomed to express their opinions rather hesitantly; those who claim to know something for sure may be proved wrong anytime.

The more complex is the problem we need to solve, the more unexpected events may happen. Realizing this, we can safely predict that anything, no matter the estimated reliability, can go south eventually.

Even being sure at 99.99% that we did everything as safe as possible, the remaining 0.01% of mistakes can and will undermine our efforts, especially after a sufficient amount of repetitions. This is why cybersecurity never works and why software has bugs.

In our case, when dealing with the fastest car problem, we should repeat our measurements several times to obtain a good statistical sample. And of course, we need to run the experiments under the same conditions.

From a practical point of view, performing the whole thing correctly would require so much effort and money that we can safely dismiss this as an impossible task.

So we will never know what the fastest car in the world is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Stop sharing secrets of your eternal wealth

Several times, kind-heartened people contacted me on Quora. Seeing my profile there, they came to the inevitable conclusion I need more money. Since they had nothing better to do, they did not hesitate and offered me the opportunity to invest my savings with a 20% profit a week.

Intrigued, I started calculations, in which I and a loan with 10% interest per annum made me incredibly rich. You know the stuff. A not suspecting bank, in which well-paid experts have no idea they can win 20% a week, will give you money, which as it turns out you can pay back in one week and the rest - the rest is your pure profit.


Let me tell you straight. I am an idiot. Instead of taking the opportunity myself, I wrote back to those kind-hearted fellows and shared with them the secret of eternal wealth. To my huge surprise, they never bothered to thank me, probably on their hasty run to the nearest bank.

Watching them being so selfish and not caring as soon as after they got their chance to live their American dream, I gave up on investment. The money will never ruin my character! I swear!

But wait a moment! Isn't it a little too late for this? The more time I spend on the Internet, the more I am sure I am an evil person.

For instance, while numerous selfless writers keep advising strangers on how to earn money in no time, I, after checking my publishing history, have sadly only the record of pessimistic or downright discouraging articles. I was ridiculing poor Twitter users, undermining consumer's resolve to sort plastics, promoting Japanese or Chinese novels (who cares about them, anyway?), and what is the worst, I was even bashing my own online novel.

Would you believe this? I will not blame you if you leave now. What if the level of dementia I tend to exercise is contagious?

Still here? If so, allow me to amend my sins while giving you sincere advice on how to avoid committing the gravest mistake ever.

What is it?

When people out of good nature write their articles for others, they evidently fail to realize that resources are limited, especially when we speak of money. One million dollars divided by ten is a nice sum to have, but as soon as the secret is revealed and the advice gets into too many listening ears, the share you can obtain diminishes.

Thus, it is in your best interest to stop writing those articles. Don't do that! Don't help strangers to earn your money, keep the secret for yourselves.

The moment you grab the pen in the selfless need to write another article on how to earn thousands of dollars on Medium, Twitter, or wherever else, slap hard your face and resist the urge.

Be selfish! Be selfish! Be selfish!

If even such a repeating mantra cannot pour some sense into your generous brain, do not hesitate and chop your fingers.

I and the whole world will bless your name.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

How (not) to tame English?

To answer and disappoint my reader, I have no idea. I've been writing for the web for several years, and the only conclusion I am reasonably sure of is that I cannot describe any workable method to do it. However, since I've tested many approaches so far, someone may find my journal educational.
How not to tame English by Pavel Morava


 At first, allow me to explain why I bother with English, which is not my mother language, and Grammarly keeps nagging about every tenth word I use. Well, you know - everyone is littering the Internet, and I tend to do what the others do. 

Anyway, the first method I would like to recommend to your attention exploits the "I don't care!" attitude. Its magic dwells in commenting while disregarding any grammar and spelling. The primary purpose is to deliver the message, not to care about insult to the language or potential recipients.

It is a straightforward and easy-going approach. I used it often with great success. Some native speakers might even appreciate it since observing the dumb foreigners cultivates their superiority complex. Without a doubt, native speakers beat the rest of the world in this game.

But not only that!  By solving the riddles presented in texts, enriched by cryptic fragments, the intellectual satisfaction competes with ancient hieroglyphs' decryption. I have spent plentiful happy minutes myself over writings of the poor souls, who struggled with English more desperately than I do.

As a creative fellow, I have extended the before-mentioned methodology by something I would call the "Intuitive Grammar." There is a particular moment in your meaningless life when you come to the false conclusion that you have become an advanced speaker.

Even though you have forgotten all the rules and exceptions they pushed into you at school, you feel empowered with your recent skills. So you begin using tenses, particles, and idioms you have seen somewhere under the false pretext you understand them correctly.

This hilarious self-mystification leads to extraordinary enhancement of your written delivery, so you do not hesitate to ornament your sentences with refined gems, which bear the opposite meanings than you initially thought.

Furthermore, if you tend to take advice from the invention called Thesaurus, it can happen to you as it happened to me that after stumbling upon the two-month-old article, you have no idea what the article was about.

If even such an embarrassment fails to stop your progressing megalomania, the day may come when you decide to write an English novel. In that case, a tiny worm of doubts may appear and force you to reevaluate your ability to do so. Having absolute and excessive confidence in your learning skills, you accept the quest to conquer English grammar and vocabulary, meticulously polishing every sentence and every word you put down on the paper.

The journey can quickly become an annoying hassle as soon as you realize that English lacks any widely accepted standard and formal rules. More than anything resembles a poorly evolved construct, a muddy piece of sheer shapelessness.

Only the brave or stupid endure after such a finding, and it depends solely on the adventurer's unyielding character, whether or not he continues on the journey. After all, if Britons and Americans could not have standardized their language in the way the less worldly countries had done about one century ago, what prevents you from maiming their language in a fashion you deem appropriate, suffice it to declare own ignorance a personal style of writing?

This phase, I would call "Spiritual Enlightenment." Since endless queue of English lectors, preaching on YouTube, demand you to stop translating in your head, you proudly declare English your second language and expose your already damaged brain to new suffering.

By switching to "I must not translate" self, you earned the phenomenal opportunity to express the complex ideas in the manner which corresponds to the abilities of ten years old child handicapped by incurable mental issues.

Overnight, the previous fluency transforms into hopeless stuttering, and you enviously watch the others able to bring thousands of words a day where you hardly birth hundreds in a week.

Personally, I surprised myself by the tenacity with which I crafted more than one hundred pages of Sovereign. There was a period I was writing about five hundred words a day. It did not last for long as you may easily deduce from my submissions on RoyalRoad.

The final proof of my inferior intellect? It took me years to understand that this road leads nowhere. My "Big comeback to the Earth" formed this article, written in my mother language in a half of hour, the only obstacle being my pondering how the hell I was going to translate my Czech idioms into understandable English. I was afraid that by not translating it, I would harm my international audience, which counts if I am not mistaken about twenty random passersby.