Various programs in the past have been very successful with problems that
were tightly constrained.  Sorry I don't have some examples however, I do
not think this is a controversial assertion.  The reason why these programs
worked was that they could assess any number of possibilities that the
problem space offered in a very short period of time.  I think that this
kind of problem model could be used in a test of a program to see if the
basic idea of the program was worthwhile.  Under these circumstances, where
the possibilities are limited, the computer program can use an exhaustive
search of the possibilities to test how good possible solutions
looked.  Although
many problems do not have a way to immediately rate the value of the best
candidates for a solution, the majority of the candidates typically can be

An awareness of these limited successes is important because it gives us
some sense of what the solution might look like.  On the other hand, the
application of these limited successes to the real world is so limited that
it may seem that they offer little that is worthwhile.  I believe that is

Suppose that you had a variety of methods of image analysis that were useful
in different circumstances but these circumstances were very limited.  By
developing programs that combine these different methods you could have a
set of methods that might produce insight about an image that no one
particular method could produce, but the extended circumstances where
insight could be produced would be unusual and it would still not produce
the kinds of results that you would want.  Now suppose that you just kept
working on this project, finding other methods that produced some kinds of
useful information for particular circumstances.  As you continued working
in this way two things would likely occur.  Each new method would tend to be
a little less useful and the complexity that would result from combining
these methods would be a little more overwhelming for the computer to
examine the possibilities.  At some point, no matter how productive you
were, your sense of progress would come to an end.

At that point some genuine advancements would be necessary, but if you got
to that point you might find that some of those advancements were waiting
for you (if you had enough insight to realize it).

Jim Bromer

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