Lisa's post on evolution -Reply

Paul Cockshott wpc at
Sat Aug 5 21:14:19 MDT 1995

Jims message:

> It has been
> shown that the difficulty of meeting the constraints
> is an example of phase change or in Engels terminology
> quantity moving into quality.

        Could you elaborate on this?

Paul's reply:

If we measure the difficulty of meeting the constraint
by the time it takes a computer to come up with an
answer that satisfies all of them, we find the following.
If the constraints are few relative to the resources,
the computer comes up with a solution almost instantly.
If the constraints far exceed the resources, the
computer again almost instantly tells us we are in a
no hope situation. These constitute the two phases.
In between is the phase change zone, where the constraints
are such that the problem is just solvable or just
unsolvable. As we approach the boundary zone the time
taken to solve the problem grows by several orders
of magnitude.

The analogy is with melting ice to water. Let the added
heat correspond to computational effort. So long as the
water is either well frozen or liquid, a one degree rise
in temperature requires a small amount of heat, but between
-0.5c and 0.5c we have to put in about 100 times as much

People with a good understanding of physics could give
a more precise definition of the similarity than I can.

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