Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can You Manage This Many Interactions?

Walter Williams on why nobody is qualified to run the economy. Some simple math:

"Imagine you are trying to understand a system consisting of six elements. That means there would be 30, or n(n-1), possible relationships between these elements. Now suppose each element can be characterized by being either on or off. That means the number of possible relationships among those elements grows to the number 2 raised to the 30th power; that's well over a billion possible relationships among those six elements.

Our economic system consists of billions of different elements that include members of our population, businesses, schools, parcels of land and homes. A list of possible relationships defies imagination and even more so if we include international relationships."

But just for fun, let's talk about adult American citizens, of which there are about 100 million. That is 100,000,000, or 10^7 (ten to the seventh power). n(n-1) is about 10^14 possible relationships. If the relationships are just yes-no, then that is 2^(10^14) possible relationships or, approximately, 10^(10^4) = 10^10,0000. That is 10 followed by 10,000 zeroes.

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00

The government cannot even managed to accept a form and take my picture in under 5 minutes, and that's two interactions -- both "yeses".
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