A Case For Redundancy

One of my computer science teachers gave us a “word of the day” today – idempotent. It basically means that if you apply a certain function (though not every function works for this) on an item more than once, you will get the same result as if you only applied it once.

For example, you start by taking the absolute value of a number. Then, you take the absolute value of the number you just took the absolute value of. The result will be the same as if you only took the absolute value once and it would remain the same if you performed the function 20 more times.

So, when an idempotent function is applied more than once to an item, you have redundancy. In the CSC department, we are taught from day one that there is no reason for redundancy. It’s bad practice and it wastes both time and space. And I wholeheartedly believe this, in theory. When it comes to programming, I am all for making sure I only do what is necessary to accomplish the end goal. When it comes to the real world, that philosopy, at times, seemingly goes out the window.

Sometimes it’s paranoia (constantly feeling for my wallet wherever I go, convinced I am going to be pick-pocketed at any minute), and other times I would call it OCD (having to check my alarm ten times before I go to bed because there’s a chance it might not actually be set for the right time).

I don’t know what causes this strict barrier between those two very different  zones. Maybe it’s the fact that if a computer is programmed right, it will always operate in that same, right way without fail. I, on the other hand, am very human and can easily fail (e.g., short term memory). Chances are that I probably, unconsiously, know my human limitations and become a repetitious mess in order to keep myself from looking like a complete fool all the time.

While computer are, for our practical purpose, in the right hands, infallable beings who scoff at the redundant, I, as a human, fully embrace my affliction.

So, it’s about time for me to check if my alarm is set, then check it again, and again, and again….

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3 Responses

  1. Good topic, I learned a new word too. I’m adding you to my blog list Tyler

  2. Oh thank God I’m not the only person who checks my alarm 10 times before bed. I was starting to feel like a freak. I really liked this post!

  3. It’s okay Paul, you’re as much of a freak as me in that regard.

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