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Cookie Stories 3

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The Algorithmist

This story begins with the familiar scene of Luke Germaine aboard the cruise
ship The Lovecraft, proclaiming
that his life would be better if he only knew how to solve partial differential
equations. He resolves to learn to solve them, but finds it too
difficult and gives up, deciding instead to devote all his time to finding
a girlfriend.
His quest takes him to the four corners of the world, where four wise
men (all of whom turn out to be women) reveal to him the secrets to dating.
In Indianapolis, Halfaya teaches Luke differential geometry, from which
he learns that gravitation is nothing more than the warpage of space by
matter, and that he must warp the space around him more strongly if he
wishes women to be attracted to him. In Cambridge, Cora teaches Luke
number theory, from which he learns that 1+1=0 (mod 2), but that 1+1+1=1.

In Palo Alto, he learns combinatorial optimization from Theresa, concentrating
on the crucial application of the greedy algorithm to optimal cookie selection.
Finally in Yokohama, Mae teaches Luke about algebra so abstract that the
less you know the better you understand it.

When Luke returns home he finds that he has learned everything there
is to know about mathematics except how to solve partial differential equations.
Since his life is in fact better than it was before, he concludes that
he didn't need to learn how to solve them after all.

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