Big need not be complex

Class-9 students termed some problems in algebra as complex. How could a text book problem be complex?  An example:

If a+b+c = 2s, prove that 16s(s-a)(s-b)(s-c) = 2a2b2 + 2b2c2  + 2c2 a2 – a4 – b4 – c4

To solve the problem, we substitute ‘s’ with (a+b+c) and then repeatedly reduce LHS to get a form equal to RHS. We need to know three simple formulas to solve – (a+b) 2, (a-b) 2, and (a2-b2)

When I attempted with no practice, it took me about 30 minutes to solve the problem. In such tasks, we require patience and concentration. If we lose patience, concentration vanishes. We make more mistakes and consider the task complex. For a longer task we need a little plan and some perseverance. In some of the several simple steps we can err. Instead of rushing to complete the task, we have to check correctness of each step and interim results. If we don’t get the correct final result, we consider the problem to be complex and forget that our methods were slipshod; we don’t realise that our discipline and commitment were lax.

My friend Ravi underwent a cataract surgery a fortnight ago, which took 6 minutes. When I bruised my limbs in a road accident, it took a painful hour to clean and dress the wounds. A cataract surgery is order of magnitude more complex than cleaning and dressing superficial wounds that takes ten times longer. Running a 100 meter race is far more demanding than morning walk around the park, over an hour. Often we mistake a task that takes long to be complex. Repeating several simple steps is not a complex task.

We repeatedly hear from government agencies that the data they handle is too complex, when the reality is that it is only voluminous. Such assumptions promote inaction or defeatist approach to solutions. Instruction Manual, Standardization of Electoral Roll Database, Version 1.0, published by Election Commission of India states “There is no provision of a National Search or National de-duplication.” Sadly, even contiguous entries in a voter list are duplicated in thousands of cases. “It is too complex” is the notion. In fact, it is simple, doable, and important.

Aadhar enrollment started more than 3 years ago. I do not know what percentage of the populations is covered so far, but news items tell that some of the cards have photographs of dogs and trees. Eiffel tower was built in two years (1887 – 1889). It was to be dismantled after 20 years. It remained the tallest man-made structure of the world for 41 years. After 225 years, with all the technical advances and automation, we consider a software system complex just because it is voluminous. There are known reliable methods to handle large data, and we cannot take an approach like building a dog-house.

Excuse of complexity is an excuse to hide lack of commitment and accountability.

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About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
This entry was posted in eGovernance, Schools, Social Issue, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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