Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Polish Calculus

This beats any Chem Test
In the Spring Semester of my freshmen year at NMSU, I had a solid B going into my Chemistry Final Exam.  As long as I got a few questions right, I would get a grade of B for the semester.  To get an A, however, I would need to have scored 46 out of 50*.

It was a three-hour test and only the TA was there.  On the first pass, I answered all the easy, soft questions 101 exams are often peppered with.  On the next pass, I knocked out a few more tougher questions.  At about the 1-hour mark, I determined that I had comfortably answered 40 out of 50* questions correctly, give or take a question.  In other words, my B grade was secure.    

But I also realized that there was no way I was gonna get 8 more questions correct in the next two hours.  If I hadn't learned it by now, there wasn't gonna be a Finals Miracle.  I probably did my best to make educated guesses and then just picked random answers which might have given me 1-2 lucky guesses but still not getting my A.

I could have sat there for two more hours pretending to work on the problems and maybe, maybe I'd get one or two more, but I wasn't getting the eight I needed to get into the A zone. 

I turned in my paper and went back to my dorm room and loaded up my mom's car, allowing us to leave 2 hours earlier on the 7+ hour ride back to Chicago.  

People don't like to hear stories like this because they feel you are giving up or taking the easy way out.  What they fail to understand is that is how a Greedy Algorithm works.  You make the best decision/select the best choice based on the information/options you have at the moment.  You cannot hope something will change down the road or expect a last-minute miracle.  

* I'm going off very old memories about the exact point differences.  Suffice it to say, I was sufficiently out of range for an A that nothing less than a perfect test was gonna convert my B into an A.

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