Hansen & Thiede, Djinni @ CodeCon 2006, 1:15pm Saturday

Continuing prejudicial CodeCon session previews:

Robert J. Hansen, Tristan D. Thiede: Djinni, 1:15pm Saturday @ Codecon 2006

Djinni is an extensible, heavily documented framework for the efficient approximation of problems generally thought to be unsolvable [in polynomial time]. It doesn't give you the optimal solution, but generally gives you very close to it, and in a very reasonable time frame.
Djinni is apparently based on "a new approximation algorithm for NP-complete problems" by Drs. Jeff Ohlmann and Barrett Thomas of the University of Iowa. However, I can't find in the Djinni docs a simple explanation of what their insight was, in contrast to what came before: how it's different, how it might be better. An expert might be able to recognize the novelty by parsing the Djinni User Guide, but I can't.

The writing in the User Guide (which is actually more of a tutorial walkthrough applying Djinni to Boggle) suggests Mr. Hansen tends a bit towards discursive flourishes. (Example: "Bad or out-of-date documentation is something no programmer should tolerate. Far better there be no documentation at all than significantly out-of-date documentation."). This could make his presentation entertaining... or awkward as whimsical asides fall flat. We'll see.

Update (8:13pm Saturday): Presenter reported that the Ohlmann/Thomas approach is qunatifiably better than another popular solution, whose name I neglected to note, which was also denigrated as being comparatively complex. The whimsical tendencies of the presenters did get laughs... some genuine, some uncomfortable.

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