more on simulated annealling

This time, I pick one of my favorite topics: Indian Politics.

Simulated annealing is a popular heuristic technique. I’ve written some preliminary intro about it here . Read it before you go ahead with this… for those who are too lazy to do that, here goes… as for those who already know what simulated annealing is, ignore the next two paragraphs.

\begin{tutorial on simulated annealing}
Let us assume that the objective is to find the highest point in Bangalore. It is not feasible to list out all points and then make a comparision. So I start from home. If i find a point around me higher than where I am right now, I go there. I continue this process until I come to a point where I cannot see any higher points around. This simple technique is called “hill-climbing” and can be used to give an approximate solution. Problem with this is that we can get stuck in “local maxima” and completely miss out on going near the highest point.

As an improvement to this method came the method of simulated annealing. In the earlier stages of the search (when the search is still “hot”) we are allowed to climb down in the hope that another path may give us a better solution. As the search goes on (search cools down) the probability of being allowed to climb down drops. We proceed this way until we reach a point where we are not allowed at all to climb down in which case we settle upon the local maxima.
\end{tutorial on simulated annealing}

Last time round, I talked as to how simulated annealing is an important factor in view of cultural festivals. I now say that simulated annealing is also an important concept for a country as a whole.

When our country became independent, the wise men who penned the constitution were wise enough to recognize this and decided that the best form of governance in India would be a republican democracy. Democracy, in its purest form, would mean that in case of indifferent performance of a government, it would get thrown out in the next election and a new government would come in, which would (hopefully) follow policies radically different than the earlier one.

After the initial few years, when many different forms of governments would have been tested by the people, there would emerge a consensus in the country and one of the governments would get re-elected, thus “cooling the situation a little bit”. Soon the policies of this government would become so popular that successive governments, even if they belonged to other parties, would largely adopt the philosophy of this government. The country would stabilize in a way as it became more mature (and cooler!) but by then the best form of governance (according to the people) would be in place and the country would be quick on the way to development.

However, in India, something went terribly wrong somewhere (as a friend pointed out, this particular phrase HAS to be there in each of my essays). At the national level, in the initial few years, there was no credible opposition. Even if the people were dissatisfied with the performance of a government, they had no choice but to re-elect it. Hence, this government’s policies got set (even though they may not have been the best set of policies available)and subsequent governments were almost forced to follow them.

As it happened in our country, this went on for 40 long years, each succeeding government being identical to the previous one. And by this time, the country had cooled down sufficiently so there was no perceptible need to “move downward”. However, however low the temperature is, SA allows you to move down (with a small probability of course). And this happened in 1991, a new hill was chosen and we’ve been climbing it ever since. Whether it is better or worse than the previous one is debatable, though i take the stance that this is definitely a good move (more on that in another post).

Another example of SA having gone wrong terribly is in Tamil Nadu. It has always had a bi-polar polity : Congress vs. DMK or X-DMK vs. Y-DMK. And each time there are elections, the incumbent government gets routed. Only to come back to power five years later. For some weird reason, this state still remains really hot (pun intended). And the only common thing between successive governments there is that the first two years are spent undoing what the previous government did and the next three in preparing for elections (which the incumbent loses anyway)…

I could go on and on about this but I choose to stop as you might have actually gotten bored by now. Indian politics is a really rich field and definitely merits much more analysis than this. I might, a few years down the line, actually end up doing a PhD in Political Science (though I really hated the one hour of “Political Philosophy” class I attended while at IIT)…

One thought on “more on simulated annealling”

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