Sunday, 23 March 2008

The Decision Tree

Picture, if you will, a tree. But wait. This isn’t exactly an ordinary tree, so I guess I should explain first. Let’s begin with: Somewhere out there, there is a tree. It’s like a quantum singularity or a black hole or a clean, green, moral-police-free park in the city. It exists, but you don’t know what it looks like or where it is. It’s like this spiritual thing, man… Like auras and shit, man (the ones where a guy charges like a thousand bucks to click your picture, add a glow in Photoshop and say “You have a red aura. You are energetic…”). This tree is unlike any you have ever seen, and bigger than you can possibly fathom. Hold on, I will explain why.

Imagine this gigantic tree trunk. Really, really huge. I mean, this thing is so big that it makes those redwoods you can drive through look like a strand of hair (hang on to that visual, could you? And no, I’m not being a perv. You stop. No you stop. Really! Oh, come off it!). Okay. Got that? Good. Now, for convenience’s sake let’s assume that you’re also sufficiently large (no I don’t mean to say you’re fat. No, I’m not being derisive, you’re positively lovely! What’s that? No, I’m not patronising you… Would you please just let me get on with it? Thank you.) Yes, sufficiently lar… um… big… er… well-propor… gaaah!! So you’re big. Move on. Yes. Big enough so as to view the tree as being normal sized, just for a second.

Now at about normal tree height (considering that you’re now a giant to make Jack’s giant look like a baby ant), there’s this breakout of branches. Now here, there are like millions and millions of about normal sized branches going off in every direction. Most of these branches come straight from that huge, huge, huge trunk itself, but some of them are offshoots of branches themselves, you know what I mean? Just like a normal tree, except that there’s millions of ‘em. Actually [and this is why you can’t possibly fathom (end of the first para, keep up, will you?) how big it is], there is an infinite number of branches, but it’s easier to be taken seriously when you say ‘millions’.

So, yeah. Have you pictured the millions of infinite branches? Good. Come back to normal size now (you really aren’t paying attention, are you?). So on this gigantic tree with the amazingly infinite number of branches (excuse my gesticulation here, I tend to get excited when I get an audience), each branch represents a choice. Now this is the tricky bit to understand. Each branch represents a choice, and every single choice that has ever been made, is being made or will ever be made, is represented by a distinct branch on the Decision Tree. Every last one. It is for this reason that the Decision Tree cannot grow. It exists in the fabric of the universe at its maximum potential. (Pictured alongside is an artist’s impression of the Decision Tree. Just so you know, he got it wrong. Viewing the complete image is recommended for maximum comprehension.)

Till now, this hasn’t involved you. I’m sure you’re wondering why you’ve been asked to make these imaginings of size and proportion. Here’s why. Whenever you make a decision – and it could be anything, anything at all – you’re using the decision tree. And now I’ll tell you exactly how that happens.

Say you’re deciding the colour of the flip-flops (and I don’t mean what two sailors do below deck when they’ve been out at sea for months without so much as seeing a woman) you’re buying (I’m generously reducing the length of this post and your discomfort in reading by not including the Decision Tree process for deciding to buy flip-flops in the first place). This choice is represented, as explained earlier, by a branch on the decision tree (good, I saw you mouthing that! You remember! I’m so touched… Thank you. Really, thank you… *sob* *sniffle* *clears throat*).

Yes, sorry. By a branch on the decision tree, yes. Now, all the choices that you have – say blue, green, black, red… - can be seen as leaves on this branch of the Decision Tree. Now, again, these aren’t leaves as you’re used to picturing them. Picture a strand of hair (aha! You forgot, didn’t you?). A nice long strand of hair. It’s really like one from those shampoo ads (the ones where there’s the woman with the hair flying in the breeze and the man whose face just happens to ‘accidentally’ be where the hair goes, and all that marketing crap). So, yeah. One of those, except that it’s silvery white and thick and you know, cool and looks ghostly and spiritual and stuff, man…

Now, in this case, that translates into every imaginable colour having its own silvery white, hair-like leaf on our branch of the decision tree (yes, fuchsia, teal, lavender, strawberry-pink, lemon-green, puke-yellow are all separate colours). Once you have decided which colour it is that you want your flip-flops to be, in your mind (that is perhaps the single most important phrase in this discourse), in your mind, you have plucked out that leaf (or strand of hair, as you want to look at it) from the branch. Note that this happens IN YOUR MIND ONLY and you are not to go around plucking leaves from trees saying that you are making decisions.

An alternate school of thought talks about each person’s individual decision tree. The idea is the same, it just states that every person has their own decision tree which has on it (in the fashion described above) every decision they will make in the span of their short and (in comparison with the universe at large) inconsequential lives.

I hope you have understood this noble concept. If not, fear not, for I deliver personal sermons, too. My next lecture will describe the Thought Fly and the impact of its discovery on our understanding of telepathy.

2 member protest rally:

Me said...

so its a really large tree which has all the decisions one makes in life... but i have one question... when a person plucks their choice out of the tree the tree still has a lot of choice remaining... do other people pluck that until finally that branch as no more strands to be plucked???

Jhayu said...

Number of people = finite ------->(1)
Number of leaves = infinity ----->(2)

Do the Math.

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