Cookie Stories 3

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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