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'Slacking' can speed up complicated computer work

Researchers with a limited budget can complete their calculations more quickly if they wait until they can afford more computer power

Researchers at the University of Arizona have calculated that under certain circumstances organisations will complete complex computer calculations more quickly if they "slack off" and start later.

Chris Gottbrath and other researchers at the University of Steward Observatory have realised that because computational power is constantly increasing at such a significant rate, researchers and organisations with a limited budget are paradoxically more likely to complete their calculations more quickly if they wait until they can afford increased power.

The research is entitled "The Effects of Moore's Law and Slacking on Large Computations" making reference to the "law" famously expounded by Intel founder Gordon Moore in 1965, that computational power doubles roughly every 18 months.

Gottbrath and his team assessed that any calculation likely to take more than 26 months using the most advanced computer hardware, is not worth starting. Instead it should be delayed until computers are available that can perform the tasks in precisely 26 months.

This may just seem like good news for those who enjoy putting work off, but it is important for researchers and companies in a wide variety of fields from cryptography to climate prediction.

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