The question https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/167508/are-there-any-real-world-practical-problems-where-only-the-best-exact-solution is closed with reason "it's unclear what you're asking". And the advice says to add additional details to highlight exactly what you need.
That's ridiculous. I've been adding as much details to the question as I could to present my point in the most clear way I could.
I am not realizing what additional details are asked for or how this question might not be clear (besides some people might feel tl;dr) and will appreciate if anybody helps me with that.
Even if it is worst question here on the stackexchange network please help to improve it because it's subject deserves to be existing and open for answers.

Update Practically, the help I need is following:

  1. Does the question explain the idea of a problem of a special kind?
  2. What can be done to reduce the question so only the idea of a such problem is shining clear?
  3. Does the question probably belong to https://cs.stackexchange.com/?
  • feel free to bring up these list requests in The Whiteboard Programmers general discussion room, this stuff is both on topic there as well as appreciated conversation material (we're all work-a-day devs, rare do we get to look at anything more foundational than defining a programs config file structure) Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 9:11

3 Answers 3


I'm a Computer Science Stack Exchange moderator.

This question is at the interface between programming and computer science. It straddles the border between Prog.SE and CS.SE.

I don't think this question is suitable for Stack Exchange. It's broad, and fundamentally, it invites a list of examples rather than answers. Each answer would be an example of a “real-world problem in which only the best solution will do”. Stack Exchange is not good at such collections of examples.

I haven't read every word of your question. It's possible that there is some question related to your understanding of Cormen's question buried in there, but if so, you need to do the work of extracting it.


The reading of the title of the question reads as a poll asking for examples. If this is what is desired, then it is off topic because polling itself implies that there are multiple correct answers that may be at odds with each other.

While P.SE does stretch it a bit, from help - don't ask:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

Asking for "Are there any real-world practical problems where only the best (exact) solution algorithm or program will do (but not the good-enough solution)?" - it is unclear what the actual problem that is faced is. This is where the unclear closure likely comes from.

Additionally, the last paragraph of the question:

I think that we live in a world where it is required from programming solutions to practical purposes to be good enough. In rare cases really very very good but still not the best ones. Isn't it? If it's not can you provide an example of such solved or unsolved problem of practical interest?

This sounds like a call for a discussion. Discussions don't work well in the Q&A format. We welcome such in chat, but as questions they just don't work.

The key for this to be reopened would be to address these issues in the question - don't poll for examples, make it clear what the problem that needs to be solved is, and don't try to have a discussion about the topic.

  • I get that, and I had the similar arguments here meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/5985/…. However in my purpose in this question is to open the idea I have in my mind to the reader and ask if the reader can provide just any example. And I think it fits in Q&A format. I modified the question trying to eliminate allusion to discussion, does it look now better or still like polling?
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:46
  • 3
    That may be, but it isn't a good, practical problem with a definitive answer.
    – user40980
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:48
  • When it comes to this and I start thinking that the problem is not practical but theoretical or philosophical then for me it is the same as getting its answer as “No, there is no such special problem known (yet)”. Maybe the place for the question is on cs.stackexchange.com? And why is it not good?
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 4:11
  • 2
    @Mike it think it's "not good" only in the context of Programmers site which is only about getting answers to questions. As a topic for a discussion / chat, it might be good, but as a Programmers question, it isn't
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 8:10

My question to you is why do you not accept the highest voted answer when at least in my professional opinion is correct and helpful?

However I need you to help me realize how I misstate good-enough and best concepts in my question.

That is exactly what the answerer did. I am not sure what you don't understand. He explained that the entire premise about the "exact" solution is wrongheaded. He explained to you even the authors intent. If this was truly what the question was asking for then it would be a great question. You explain though what you are really looking for...

Because from the lines you highlighted the only difference I see is that I'm asking about the problem that has to be solved programmatically. But that's the reason the question is on this site and not somewhere else.

There is no The Problem only a seemingly endless array of possible problems which doesn't really lead to any one correct answer. This doesn't fit the Q&A model well and generally doesn't lead to constructive content on the site. It would warrant an interesting discussion but this is not the place or forum for that kind of debate.

So I disagree it is unclear what you are asking, but I do agree it should be closed on the grounds that what you are looking for is polling for programming examples demonstrating the problem statement from the book.

  • First of all, thank you for this breakdown. I was really not hoping to get anything but FAQ excerpts. Second, it’s me who missing something, so please be indulgent. I’m not asking for what the author was asking (his terse question is very sly though). I’m not asking in that question to fix my understanding of good enough and the best (but likely I am the fool).
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:20
  • But I’m asking for a problem, any one, just any example. And I’m trying to explain in that many words for what problem I’m asking. And I still feel like people don’t tend to see what is really asked, feel that I could not bring the idea. Asking for any is not very welcome here, but it is acceptable, and no polling or discussion I’m looking for.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:20
  • And to the last sentence of your answer - no, I’m not asking for the best way to do A+B, I’m asking for a kind of bigger problem sized like speech recognition or shuttle maneuvering.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:28
  • 6
    @Mike: Even though you ask for only one example, if two people post answers with different examples, how are we going to decide which of those examples is the one right answer. The fact that this is undecidable makes your question not a good fit for P.SE and a candidate for closing it as "too broad". Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 6:59
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau I disagree. While I have got understanding of your point (and actually that argument was thrown at me many times), I think it is NOT fair to close that specific question until any answer is given. If there are two right answers it is ok to close it, because obviously SE is about getting right answer, not choosing, like you say. However I suppose that the single answer to my question is “No, there’s no such problem yet known” and that’s why it does not feel right that the question is closed.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 13:38
  • Extending that, it seems reasonable that noone could be the confident person to tell authoritatively that “there’s no such problem yet known”. However what is not right about having a question without an answer on this site? I think there is misunderstanding - the question does not presume a variety of answers, rather it presumes a single and very practical answer. And I don’t foresee the situation where two people give answers with different examples. That is why I find it wrong to close the question before any answer is given.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 13:47
  • 2
    @Mike: If what you really want is confirmation of the negative ("there are no examples"), you should reformulate your question along the lines of "am I correct that there is no example...". That avoids the apparent request for a list of examples, while you hope for the single "there is no such list" answer. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 13:51
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau That’s a reasonable suggestion but I’m not thinking that I will do it in the first place because of certain reasons: 1) It narrows down the thinking - instead of considering the problems one might end up considering just the fact that there are no such problems. 2) The question does not begin to be more answerable. There barely exists a person who knows enough of the problems to say there is no of such kind. Unless the fact is derived from Goedel’s theorems or something alike. 3) Moderators might still consider the question should be closed.
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 15:06
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau The most problematic thing for me is why do you think the question in its current form is a request for a list of examples? Could you clarify a bit more?
    – Mike
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 15:17

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