Thursday, September 23, 2004

NP-Completeness is Illuminated

Another literary reference to a hard combinatorial problem. Jonathan Safran Foer describes plans for a wedding reception in his disjointed novel Everything is Illimuniated.
The hardwood floors were covered in white canvas, and tables were set in a line stretching from the master bedroom to the kitchen, each feathered with precisely positioned name cards, whose placement had been agonized over for weeks. (Avra cannot sit next to Zosha, but should be near Yoske and Libby, but not if it means seating Libby near Anshel, or Anshel near Avra, or Avra anywhere near the centerpieces, because he's terribly allergic and will die. And by all means keep the Uprighthers and Slouchers on opposite sides of the table.)

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