Sunday, 20 October 2013

Think On Think Ahead

I was talking to my sister, it was a conversation that was fairly unusual also was a pretty lengthy discussion. 
Now coming to think about it, we have so many things going on in our life and sometimes if not always we have questions that have to be answered, and yes these are specific to the individual and in most cases the answers are difficult to find and one persons opinion may not be the definitive answer. 
And this leads to the question, how do we find the answers to these questions? Does pondering on about trying to find an answer work. The thought process, is it logical? do all our questions have a logical, definitive, concise and defend-able answers? Let's take an objective approach in finding the answer to the above question. Now that we all have been through classroom education its safe to assume we know the classical approach to solving a problem. 

1. Read and write down the question
2. List all the information given to you which is relevant
3. Solve sequentially till you reach the answer and fill in the gaps

This approach does look simple, and we all can agree that it is logical. That is because we are very familiar with this type of problem solving, because we are given the directions to think. you are given a road sign telling you where to go and you reach the destination. 

What if we remove the helping road sign from the above scenario, then we arrive at something we call puzzles. Now is when we have to really think, when the mind stops following the protocol because none exists. As they say "this is where the magic happens" its that "magic" that I am going to concentrate on for the rest of this article. This is where the beauty of the mind comes to play, where we start to exercise our cognitive ability because now we have to create our own set of rules, we make our map. We have to take in all the external occurrences and start to look into our surroundings trying to make sense of where we are, this is where we use the knowledge we have and use it to make sense of what we discover, where we make sense of the world by looking at the north star and by looking at the moss on trees. We start to think.

Obviously we have to figure out everything, we have to find the answers our self. Now what if we had our road sign here too? would that make it easier or will it make us focus only on one thing and turn a blind eye to the other possible answers? what if the answer to questions only leads to more questions? well hello we have just crossed the puzzles and entered into the domain of life. and here is where things get tricky. it becomes a maze of puzzles where nobody knows the answers and and you do not know where you are going. In the world of robotics there is this contest called "micro mouse" in which your robot has to solve a maze as quickly as possible. the "magical" part here is how the mouse manages to figure out the fastest or shortest path, now the shortest need not be the fastest. So you may be knowing that programs are written based off of algorithms and in the maze solving game there are two key ones
1. flood fill algorithm
2.A* algorithm
As we already know a maze is a puzzle and puzzles have definitive solved answers. So the magic of the flood fill algorithm is how easy it is to understand, now let us say there is a pail of water in the maze and someone emptied it in that place, now the path the water takes to come out the fastest is the fastest/shortest route. 

Now we can apply the same logic here. The concept that we can take up the experiences from everybody and and use it to somehow help us find the answers to life's questions. We have to face the fact that everybody's opinion matters and can be used in a constructive way to help us find the answers. and most importantly we should always try to be on the thinker's side than the followers, because the guy who invented the flood fill algorithm took a problem and found its answer. He is a thinker and only thinkers find answers. So think on and think ahead.