it's a stretch

In my current play, many friends are somewhat amused to hear that I am playing a Lebanese woman.  It's kind of hilarious. I'm about as Anglo-looking as you can get.  I've even been pronounced "the whitest person I've ever met".   BY MORE THAN ONE PERSON. 

However, the greatest stretch is not that the character I am portraying is a 22-year old Arab.
It is that she is also a PhD in Pure Mathematics. 

This has led me to research some very interesting* blogs, which have comments like this:
Computing e^{-U(x)/T} takes polynomial number of parameters, computing \sum {x is in n-cube} e^{-U(x)/T} in k-SAT is #P-complete, and hence we all believe (but do not know how to prove) that exponential number of steps is needed, but counting is #P-complete even in polynomial problems like matching. So I am still confused about the definition of “parameters”.
Which apparently someone FREAKING UNDERSTANDS
because they responded with this:
parameters are not x_1… x_n, so in computing sum e^{-U(x)/T} he more likely counts number of terms – basic potentials;
Complexity of the problem Z(T) is not so relevant – it might be #P complete in general, but he uses it to determine (if I am right) the number of parameters/terms, does not need to solve it. It is the other way around – when he CAN compute Z(T), then number of “parameters” is small.
People.  And that was an explanation

Did your brain just explode?   Or is my massive ego short-circuiting this to prevent me from admitting that I feel duuuuumb?

*in the abstract


Ashley said...

I feel you. As in, "When I'm taking a math test, as soon as I see the words, *One train leaves the station . . .* my eyes glaze over, I circle *C* and skip to the next question" feeling you.

Jeremy said...

It's a pity you can't layer math-smart on your face like pancake makeup.

I periodically get the chance at work to have a PhD mathematician explain something to me. Usually they dumb it down right away, and say stuff like "and then there's all the stuff you don't have to worry about."

I think the key to being a PhD mathematician, though, is that everyone around you will see you the time you lock your keys in the car, or drink too much and start on the Ayn Rand talk, or fall in love with some jerk, and they get to think, "They're not so smart." Whereas we don't even begin to understand the complexities of whether counting is #P-complete or not, so we'll never really understand that you actually are that smart.