20210614 The place of unthought thoughts.

Let’s get back to the thing about unsolvable equations.

At the beginning of this century, which if we are being accurate started with the year 2001, not 2000, there was a lot of people celebrating ″the Millennium.″ One of these was a group of mathematicians, the Clay Mathematics Institute, who announced the Millennium Prize saying that there are a number of equations, or ″problems″ that they think cannot be solved and they have put up a prize for the first solution to each of them.

The first was solved in 2006.

Sit up and pay attention because this is where whatever is in that white hole has a direct impact on the way that we in financial crime risk and compliance do our jobs. Even more importantly, it has a direct impact on the technologies that are being sold as ″solutions.″

Of the list of equations that are included in the challenge, this is my favourite.

P v NP.

I know – it looks like the citation for a divorce case but it isn’t. You can read the basis of the puzzle here:

http://www.claymath.org/millennium-problems/p-vs-np-problem

It is best summarised as easy to find (P) versus easy to check (NP).

The ″problem″ as they see it is that some problems are so big that ″no future civilization could ever hope to build a supercomputer capable of solving the problem by brute force″ and ″Problems like the one listed above certainly seem to be of this kind, but so far no one has managed to prove that any of them really are so hard as they appear, i.e., that there really is no feasible way to generate an answer with the help of a computer. ″

The premise is that the limitation of the computer is due to a lack of ingenuity on the part of the programmer(s).

Here’s why it’s interesting to us, that is you and me, in the world of financial crime risk and compliance.

The essential problem is simple: allocate certain scarce resources in a way which avoids known conflicts.

Don’t panic: I’ll use the example from the Institute and you can see the beginnings of where it becomes directly relevant – so long as you don’t take this too literally.