The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible

  • 2h 44m
  • Lance Fortnow
  • Princeton University Press
  • 2013

The P-NP problem is the most important open problem in computer science, if not all of mathematics. The Golden Ticket provides a nontechnical introduction to P-NP, its rich history, and its algorithmic implications for everything we do with computers and beyond. In this informative and entertaining book, Lance Fortnow traces how the problem arose during the Cold War on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and gives examples of the problem from a variety of disciplines, including economics, physics, and biology. He explores problems that capture the full difficulty of the P-NP dilemma, from discovering the shortest route through all the rides at Disney World to finding large groups of friends on Facebook. But difficulty also has its advantages. Hard problems allow us to safely conduct electronic commerce and maintain privacy in our online lives.

The Golden Ticket explores what we truly can and cannot achieve computationally, describing the benefits and unexpected challenges of the P-NP problem.

About the Author

Lance Fortnow is currently professor and chair of the School of Computer Science at Georgia Tech having previously taught at Northwestern and University of Chicago. Lance was born and raised in New York City and New Jersey.

The P versus NP problem has perplexed him for three decades now and Lance relates the good, bad and ugly of P versus NP in his first book, The Golden Ticket.

In this Book

  • The Golden Ticket—P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible
  • Preface
  • The Golden Ticket
  • The Beautiful World
  • P and NP
  • The Hardest Problems in NP
  • The Prehistory of P versus NP
  • Dealing with Hardness
  • Proving P ≠ NP
  • Secrets
  • Quantum
  • The Future
  • Chapter Notes and Sources