Got something complicated? Simplify by looking at it locally, in a small neighborhood, and thinking about how it varies there.

A landscape is full of hills and valleys, ridges and clefts; so is a body, a face, a chart of the stock market, or a musical score for a concert. But that complexity is built from a flock of simple pieces: straight lines, smooth planes, intervals of constant motion. Study the easy parts and how they fit together. The large-scale messiness may go away or at least become manageable. Even if not, in many cases what really counts is getting the local patch right. The global situation is likely to be insoluble, unknowable, or subject to change by the action of other forces. Work on solving the immediate problem first.

Monday, April 24, 2000 at 21:29:30 (EDT) = 2000-04-24


(correlates: PerpetualMotion, EducationVersusEduction, Asimov on Writing, ...)