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There are algorithms that are said to be unfeasible to be applied in practice due to their time complexity. In textbooks, it's common to see remarks like "it would take hundreds of years" about using them. Unfortunately, it's often the case an inefficient algorithm is the only proven solution for an interesting problem.

Is there an example of a project running one of those algorithms where the participants know they won't be around to see the results hoping to solve a problem for the next generations?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does a clock count? Some are intended to last for many generations. Their algorithm isn't particularly inefficient, it just doesn't, theoretically, halt. $\endgroup$ – plop Aug 28 '20 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @plop, but it doesn't count. I'm looking for programs that will eventually finish and provide an answer, probably one with a high scientific value. Something along the lines of Deep Thought from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. $\endgroup$ – guest Aug 28 '20 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ How about distributed computing projects, like the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search which has been running since 1996 (albeit without a defined end goal)? $\endgroup$ – Aaron Rotenberg Aug 28 '20 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @AaronRotenberg. I was not aware of that specific project, but know some works of this kind. It's not quite what I'm looking for though. The defined end goal is essential. $\endgroup$ – guest Aug 28 '20 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ Do Buddhist monks playing Tower of Hanoi count? $\endgroup$ – DanielV Sep 1 '20 at 1:09
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There have been several programs running for very long times, like the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, which has been going for some 25 years now.

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The best answer I can think of is Shigeru Kondo running an algorithm for 371 days to compute the first 10,000,000,000,050 digits of pi.

Link

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The computers on board Voyager 1 have been running for almost 43 years at the time of writing. I believe this holds the record for the longest uninterrupted uptime of any piece of software.

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