Best of all VS Best for now?

One of my fellow Xanga bloggers had an interesting post : Namely, when dating someone, how do you know the difference between “Mr. Right” and “Mr. Right for now”. As I mentioned in my comment to the post, the question reminds me of a class I took in college.

During my Masters year, I took a class in Neural Networks, taught by possibly the smartest man in the Electrical Engineering department, Prof. Terence L. Fine . He was a cranky, cantankerous old bastard, but he was always fair. If I had to use one phrase to describe him, it would be “old-school”. Definitely one of my favourite teachers in college. Anyway, he was trying to make a certain point (don’t remember what, exactly), when he used the following analogy. To paraphrase:

When searching for a potential mate, each and every one of us has a possible sample set of three billion options to choose from on this planet. Obviously, some are better than others, with one option being best of all. In other words, in any given space in the sample set, there are always local maxima, and one global maximum for the whole sample set. The primary goal is to identify this global maximum. The problem is that searching through three billion possibilities to find the best one is damn near impossible. It would take too long, and use too many resources. But the converse problem is that if you did stop searching and settled for the local maximum, you would know that if you’d searched for just a little longer, you would have found an even better solution. Essentially, you’d never stop searching. The question that then arises is, when do you say enough is enough?

From what I remember of the class (and I’m sure no one from that class is reading this), the way we answered the problem was, before you even start searching, you set a limit on how many resources you want to devote to it, and how much time you want to devote to it. After a certain amount of time and resources, the solution returned will be good enough that any further processing will lead to diminished returns. It can still get better, but the improvement in the solution would require too much effort to get there. Figuring out that point depends on informed, experienced judgment, and depends subjectively on the person making that decision.

So, getting back to the original question: How do you know that the guy is “the one” versus “fun for the moment”? Here’s my answer. You know that the guy is “the one” when you don’t want to look anymore, because in your own personal judgment, finding someone even better than him would be too hard, take too long and require too much effort. In other words, if you’re asking yourself this question seriously, then he’s not “the one”.

Yes, I know. That was very definitive, wasn’t it?

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4 Responses to “Best of all VS Best for now?”

  1. sirm Says:

    Chirag…that was without a doubt the most intelligent thing that I have ever seen you write. Admittedly, you are paraphrasing Prof Fine, but still…intelligent.

    What you said is the inherent problem with marriage as I see it. No matter how much you try to tell yourself otherwise, the person you are marrying (or are married to) is someone you have settled for…and “Settling” is a disturbing word to describe someone you will spend the rest of your life with. All you’ve done is identified someone that you don’t want to kill (or maybe you do) at this point in your life. And since our personalities are constantly evolving, you can be sure that your compatibility with your selection is only going to change with time. So your “local maxima” now is definitely going to be moving around in the compatibility space. The key to a successful marriage is hoping that she never makes it all the way down to being a “local minima,” or worse yet a “global minima”

  2. goddessrinki Says:

    Chirag….finally my type of post, even though you got the idea from another blogger 😉 Your answer is interesting…..althought I don’t like it, because it’s not the romantic’s viewpoint – I hate to admit – you’re right! I guess I could add more to it, but I won’t….

  3. Meowtotrot Says:

    heya… good entry. can i link it from my blog… who said love can never be practical huh?

  4. dinamehta Says:

    Have I told you how much of a dork you are? ; You successfully managed to take a matter of the heart and introduce something from your Neural Networks class to come up with a response … not saying I disagree, just find your approach humorous ;

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