Going The Wong Way I'm ALWAYS going the Wong way

Algorithm For Your Life

You might wonder whether this entry is worth reading, especially if you are like most people who don’t even know what an algorithm really is. Let me tell you, you should still read this because it applies to life. Yes that’s right, life.

I had a professor at UCSD during my 3rd year of school for CSE 101: Design and Analysis of Algorithms. On the first day, the class was packed as usual so everyone could get the syllabus. This red-haired, awkward, sweaty man stood in front of us and mumbled about different things. The biggest lesson that I learned from that class was on that first day. It wasn’t concerning greedy, backtracking, or any other type of algorithm, though. It was about life. Professor Russell Impagliazzo said

If your algorithm is correct, you think that it’s correct. If your algorithm is incorrect, you think that it is correct.

Now you might wonder how in the world this applies to you let alone to life. On that day way back when, I learned of a way to put into words something that I could see was true. First let me define an algorithm.

al·go·rithm [al-guh-rith-uhm] –noun a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.

Basically that means that an algorithm is a sequence of steps to do something. It’s a method by which you accomplish something. Now there are obviously correct algorithms, incorrect algorithms, efficient algorithms, inefficient ones, etc. The truth in Professor Impagliazzo’s words are that people are going to always think that they’re right, even if they’re wrong.

Think about it. Then think some more about it.

It’s true. People always think that they’re right, even if in light of absolute truth they are wrong. The reason is this: if people knew that they were wrong, then they would change so that they were right. Only a fool of the greatest magnitude would remain wrong if they knew that they were wrong. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fool such as this who knew deep-down in their very being that they were wrong about something and refused to change to what they knew was “right” (whatever that means in each case).

You’d be surprised at how much you can encounter this phenomenon in life. I know that I was. Now go, change the world! Or at least realize that just because you think that you’re right, does not make it so. If everyone approached problems and their own “algorithm” to life with such honesty, I daresay that we would end up striving for not only a better “algorithm”, but we would find that we desire absolute truth. And no, 42 is not the answer that I’m talking about.