in reply to Packaging Algorithm
There isn't an answer to this one. There are some strategies
for doing this with restrained box sizes but the general
case you describe isn't actually solvable. At least no one
has yet. (of course, there may be some genius out there
that just broke NPcomplete problems too but...)
I've not heard of anyone solving this or any related 2d
or 3d problem.
The balance problem, aka tapesides is a good simpler
example. Given a set of weights (or a set of song lengths)
divide them into two sets that have the least difference
in weight (length)
There are a lot of nice strategies but they all have nasty
cases that don't work. Exaustively trying every case is
the only hope. The best bet is to minimize the cases you
have to exhaust. Force everything to inch(cm) boundries,
move boxes on the same. Pack things around the largest
volume item, etc.
Really, not to discourage you too much, it might be a
good idea to start on something a bit simpler, like curing
cancer. =)

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honk() if $you>love(perl)
RE: Re: Packaging Algorithm by rlk (Pilgrim) on Nov 08, 2000 at 02:36 UTC 
Remember, just because a problem is NP, doesn't mean it's unsolvable. It just means that there's no (known) way to solve it in polynomial time. All we can do in polynomial time is verify a solution.
There's no reason that one couldn't write an algorithm to solve this problem. The problem is that for any nontrivial number of boxes, it would take a long, long time and/or some pretty expensive hardware to run that algorithm.

Ryan Koppenhaver, Aspiring Perl Hacker
"I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave."
 [reply] 
RE: Re: Packaging Algorithm by PsychoSpunk (Hermit) on Nov 07, 2000 at 20:51 UTC 
There isn't an answer to this one. There are some strategies for doing this with restrained box sizes but the general case you describe isn't actually solvable. At least no one has yet. (of course, there may be some genius out there that just broke NPcomplete problems too but...)
Actually, I was playing Minesweeper this morning... awww nevermind.
ALL HAIL BRAK!!!  [reply] 
