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Letters to the Editor, November 2003


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for November 2003.

Some of it is a little ancient; I'm slowly catching up - very slowly.

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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 11/4/2003
Subj: reviews

... left over from last rock ...

Well, no. As it is used the term, extremist, doesn't mean much beyond "Those people who have views quite different from ours that we don't like." It is, in my view, a rationalization - the hate comes first, the reasons come afterwards.
... found on the current rock ...

I think that depends on who you talk to; the people I know who hate Bush were generally willing to give him a chance. And in those circles, "extremist" means a lot more than "someone I disagree with"; in this case, actions ranging from the silly (draping statues?!?) to the direct attack (as you observe).

I'm afraid I'm not much convinced by "generally willing to give him a chance", which I take as meaning "willing to tolerate him, at least until the next election, as long as he doesn't behave like a republican." Nor am I convinced about the bit about actions, not really at all. I will agree, though, that Ashcroft is the worst Attorney General since Janet Reno.

The trouble with politics is that derision is the natural mode of discourse. Much the same can be said of literary criticism.

Be all of that as it may, let me instead entertain you with the roll of the presidents:

Hoover showed us that it can be dangerous to have a president.
FDR showed us that being president can be a lifetime job.
Truman showed us that anybody can be president.
Eisenhower showed us that you don't really need a president.
Kennedy showed us that being president can be fatal.
Johnson showed us that a crook can be president.
Nixon showed us that a crook president can get caught.
Ford showed us that you don't need to be elected to become president.
Carter showed us that nice guys shouldn't be president.
Reagan showed us you don't need a brain to be president.
Bush Sr. showed us you need something besides a resume to be president.
Clinton showed us ... a lot.
Bush Jr. shows us ... not very much.

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From: MIMIJPA
Date: 11/3/2003
Subj: 5 year diaries

I'm having a very hard time finding them.

You could try http://www.stardesk.com/diaries.htm. Their prices seem a bit spendy to me, but they do have them. I don't know of any other supplier offhand.
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From: Monte Glenn Gardner
Date: 11/1/2003
Subj: MLAS algorithm

I'm having a great deal of trouble understanding the algorithm you posted on your website and on comp.programming for finding the minimum-longest-Ascending-Subsequence of a sequence of numbers. If you have the time, could you answer a few questions on it?

1. your section labeled 'public interface', what is that? is it a decleration of inputs into the procedure, or something else?

It's a declaration of the inputs to the procedure; it is just the calling sequence.
2. When you declare terminals and backptrs, you declare terminals as going from [1..n], and backptrs as going from [0..n-1]. If I was going to declare these arrays in a language such as Java that only allows arrays whose indices start at 0, how would that change this algorithm? do I need to decrement the index in all accesses to the terminals array?
In java I would declare "terminals" as being [0,...,n] and ignore the zero'th index.
3. what is the function of the variable n_as
It's the length of the longest ascending subsequence.
4. Am I right in understanding that the array seq is the original sequence of numbers that we are trying to find a MlAS for?
That is correct.
5. Am I right in understanding that the array las is the longest ascending subsequence, and thus the solution to the problem?
That is likewise correct.

If I am not mistaken there is one small bug in the code; the line that reads

if (low .lt. 1) backptrs[i] = -1
should read
if (low .le. 1) backptrs[i] = -1
My apologies. I will update the page so as to include descriptions of all variables. If you have any other problems, please let me know.
... continued on next rock ...

Thanks for your help, I have one more question. In your explanation of the MLAS algorithm, you state 'else we set M(i+1) = {M(i,n),x[n]}' What can you tell me about what this part of the process accomplishes (I guess I'm just having trouble understanding how the sets of numbers are changing).

I took a careful look at the writeup; it is more than a tad obscure. I have rewritten that section and hope that it is now clearer.
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From: Haseen Muthalali
Date: 10/30/2003
Subj: hello richard

Thank you for the resources you post on the web

You're welcome. My objective is to amuse, enlighten, and confound, and in all ways bring people a little closer to the twilight zone.
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This page was last updated November 5, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved February 20, 2006

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