Monday, August 18, 2008

Democrats and republicans

I have not been following the US presidential campaigns closely but lately I have been listening to some speeches by Barack Obama (thanks to my brother, Ganesh's enthusiasm in his speeches).

Just yesterday I listened to his (only part1) and John McCain's interviews with Rick Warren on CNN videos. Both speeches were good and clearly represented their parties' ideals. McCain's answers were short and clear while Obama's were long and complex. This was apparent starting with response to simplest questions like "State three wise men you would seek advice from" to complex issues like "Abortion". McCain's answers reflected gradient descent type approaches while those of Obama did MCMC type. No doubt both parties are dedicated to USA's growth and its benefit to the world. Both greedy deterministic approaches and probabilistic approaches have advantages and disadvantages depending on problem space: distribution of the problem instances. The main challenge in deciding whom to vote is what is to clearly understand the current problem instance and intelligently choose the better strategy. As is evident from the history republican strategy works most of the times. This is true in many optimization problems: gradient descent, though a local optimizer works in many many practical cases. But in hard cases when we need real "landscape shifts" in searching for the solutions we stand a better chance with probabilistic and "holistic/global" approaches. Such approaches tend to be computationally hard and require cleverer design of algorithms for feasibility.

Citizens of USA have been smart enough to choose Democrats a few times but I hope they realize this is one of those times again.

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