Sunday, December 27, 2009

Simplex, duplex, complex, multiplex ?

Having been re-accustomed with examinations recently, I have been hearing people say "This is complex" or  "That's actually simple" more often that I began wondering what actually the word simple/simplicity means. Well, the reasoning was simple enough - something that's simple for a person might not be same for the other. That just not shows, but proves that 'simple' and 'complex' are relative terms, a mere shamming up of words that people came up with to hide their incapabilities. And I am the culprit to be blamed as I was at the receiving end most of the times - most things appeared complex to me. And the worst misnomer (according to me) in the past 6 months was a tool called "SimpleScalar", which is full blown out-of-order processor simulator!! Well, while thirty of us thought it was extremely complex, there was someone who thought it was 'Simple'....

When someone says something is simple, it is a clear indication that he/she is in complete understanding of a particular aspect of the thing. But wait, does this mean he/she is an expert on that thing..? No, this is again a relative measure - a measure that only you, yourself can come up with and is therefore highly a personal grading of your relative understanding of the subject. There is every possibility that your understanding of the subject is completely incorrect and therefore you find it simple. Nevertheless, the fact and truth is that "your" perception of the subject is perfect under your evaluation and therefore it becomes simple. The aspect that your understanding being incorrect is irrelevant of it being simple for you. It is simple but incorrect, but simple nevertheless.

That brings me to the another ambiguous analogy of simplicity. A very vague analogical example which most of us can associate to is the 'simplicity' that we relate to asceticism. We say ascetics lead a simple life - where the simple is just one of our definitions - with respect to material aspects or renunciation. But, there are people still leading a simple life despite this renunciation - are they less simple? less spiritual? Isn't  it their definition of simple that actually matters and not ours? This analogy is further made difficult by the fact that a large percentage of characters that we Indians look upto for spirituality have seemingly mixed simplicity. For instance Shri Ramakrishna was a man that would match a definition of economical and visual simplicity whereas Shri Vivekananda has throughout led a complex life- running institutions, writing books, asking questions, answering them, giving conferences, making public appearances; all that negates our definition of being simple. So is simplicity an essential ingredient for attaining peace ?

In both of the above versions of simplicity - an object and of a person - it is very evident that we rely upon the definition of the term simple. When we refer to an object as being complex, aren't we explicitly trying to provide an excuse for our incapability of understanding it? When we say that we lack peace due to our complex lifestyle, aren't we again providing an excuse for our incapability of retaining a mental balance? Looking back, it seems that I have been providing ample examples of my incapability in the past years ;). And if you were wondering why this post all of a sudden - I was trying to understand waveform multiplexing and I found it complex!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simply stated, the simpletons have said long ago thus: "What is simple is not always easy!"