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An Important Announcement

April 1, 2011

A slight change in direction

Apollo Fir is not a theorist, but is a vice president at Google, who is in charge of acquisitions.

Today Ken and I want to make a special announcement concerning the future of this blog. Starting as soon as the SEC approves, this blog will be known as

Göogle’s Lost Letter.

We are unable at this time to explain all the details of this change, but we can say the following:

Ken and I are excited about becoming part of the Google “family” and are expecting that there will be little change in the actual content of our postings.

The transaction involves Google paying us a four-figure amount—we are not allowed to say whether that includes the decimal place or not.

How This Came About

The short answer is our buyout resulted from a bidding-war test of the respective auction models used by Google and Yahoo! Ken and I have friends, indeed former students, at both places, so by-acclaim we got chosen as the prize for the loser. There was not much we could do about it—going into industry is often a quick way for a student to out-earn his PhD advisor, so we could not counter the buyout by purchasing ourselves.

Both models use variants of the Generalized Second-Price Auction, whereby the winner pays the amount of the next-highest bid. An estimate of our self-purchase capability was used as a floor for both bids. The other restriction was that the bids had to be natural numbers {p}, whether standing for dollars or pennies, such that {p^5 + 1} is a prime number.

Future Plans

The main purpose in Google buying our blog was, according to Apollo, “why not?” They were interested in the technology in our “Buyers who must have two items” post. In particular, this is part of Google’s effort to put Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market entirely online—while requiring buyers to purchase also a heavily-discounted Ginsu knife set with every order.

Finally, Google needs progress measures to judge its effectiveness, and they assumed the rights to the technology we began on them in our Aug 28 post.

Soon even the American heartland, places like Kansas City, Kansas, will be bought up by Google. As a respondent in this item noted on Wednesday:

We are all Google now: I am looking forward to the day when Google controls all aspects of content delivery for the internet. That day is closing in rapidly. What could possibly go wrong with consolidating all information delivery in the hands of a single company?

Selling our blog was another step toward that day, but what else could we do? Oh well.


Ken and I would like to lay to rest three rumors that have been found on slashdot and other blogs about this exciting development.

  1. It is not true that Google has a polynomial time algorithm for {\mathsf{SAT}}. More precisely we are unable to discuss this issue.
  2. It is also not true that Google has a a polynomial time algorithm for factoring. More precisely we are unable to discuss this issue.
  3. Finally, it is true that Google has {\dots}

[Sorry the last was deleted by the Google editors.]

Open Problems

A small change is that in the future all open problems will be called “business opportunities.”


23 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Peikert permalink
    March 31, 2011 11:42 pm

    The ellipsis trick works! — I just clicked on it to see what was there…

    Best of wishes to you and your new Google overlords.

  2. April 1, 2011 8:00 am

    Is this post for April Fools’ Day?

    • dick lipton permalink*
      April 1, 2011 10:02 am

      Yes it is

      • April 1, 2011 12:25 pm

        Open Problems

        Is it possible to make an algorithm to recognize a joke? 😉

    • david permalink
      April 1, 2011 10:11 am

      How can someone read the post and still be in doubt as to whether it is a joke?

      • rjlipton permalink*
        April 1, 2011 12:03 pm


        We thought it was pretty silly.

      • April 1, 2011 12:41 pm

        I think the best opposite joke would be the most serious reaction 🙂

  3. Stephan Schott permalink
    April 1, 2011 10:41 am

    This post made my day.

    Thank you.

    • rjlipton permalink*
      April 1, 2011 12:04 pm


      Thanks. It was silly, but I hope all had some fun. Next posts are back to theorems, conjectures, and other fun stuff.

  4. markus.s permalink
    April 1, 2011 12:27 pm

    Although the post is an April Fools Joke, I think there is still an interesting question in it:
    What would hypothetically be the algorithm Google has, but tells no one?

    I’d go for something in Game Theory, maybe NASH-Equilibrium in P.

    • Flavio Botelho permalink
      April 4, 2011 2:14 pm

      A more interesting question would be if the NSA has a P algorithm for factoring.

  5. April 1, 2011 12:45 pm

    why not “Google Lost Email”? (or do Google emails never get lost?)

    • April 1, 2011 2:03 pm

      “Google’s archived email” perhaps ?

    • April 1, 2011 2:44 pm

      “Göogle’s Lost E-mail” was actually suggested to me by someone I’m not supposed to name, as was “Yödel’s Lost Letter” referring to this if we’d declared Yahoo! the winner. However, we stayed with Google and kept max similarity to our current title.

      Meanwhile, Dick’s university, today called “Georgia ech“, had its own announcement on a new social-media policy, but took it down as being too believable—?!?

  6. anonymous permalink
    April 1, 2011 1:59 pm

    With due respects, I request that all of us nerds stick to theorems & conjectures and not make an attempt at jokes & other fun-stuff 🙂

    • P.A.S. permalink
      April 1, 2011 3:51 pm

      Anonymous, don’t be so severe. I liked the post!

      David, I suspect someone may have believed it, simply because some countries may not have the April Fools’ Day.

      • April 1, 2011 4:06 pm

        Or maybe some countries may not have the Google 🙂

      • david permalink
        April 1, 2011 6:56 pm

        Well, there’s no April Fool’s day in my country (or, rather, there is, but it’s held on December 28th instead), but it was still quite obvious to me. Anyway my question was mainly addressed to Michael, who appeared to both now about April Fool’s day AND still manage to be in doubt.

      • April 4, 2011 8:42 am

        As I wrote above my “doubt” was a joke as well 🙂

  7. April 1, 2011 3:51 pm

    Sheeesh, if the SEC lets this go through what’s next… letting AT&T buy T-Mobile or something!?

    (by the way, my own blog, “Math-frolic,” intends to merge with Terry Tao’s blog in the near future and then be known as, “Tao de frolic.”)

  8. April 2, 2011 3:53 am

    This is the first time I’m posting a comment here though I’ve been following this blog for quite some time now. I’m neither a complexity theorist nor a mathematician; I’m an electrical engineer by education and just another curious person interested in the myriad ways of looking at and making sense of everything under the sun and beyond it!

    I couldn’t help noticing how your fictitious blog title could have acquired an additional–maybe trivial–layer of meaning, had you decided to call it “Gögel’s Lost Letter”.


  1. Third Linkfest
  2. Searchin’ « Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP

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