8 Replies - 4632 Views - Last Post: 06 August 2012 - 10:14 PM

#1 Schastain1  Icon User is offline

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Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:03 AM

I was wondering if your l had ever done any research on buying
mathematical algorithms vs. programming them yourself? Especially for complicated
mathematical subroutines, is it cost effective to subscribe to an algorithm library
(like www.nag.com) for about $3000 per year, or let your programmers do all the work?
If you have any personal experience on buying algorithms, I'd love to hear about it.
Did the algorithm work properly and did you get proper tech support? Any informed opinions
would be welcome.

Thanks, Steve Chastain

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Replies To: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

#2 alias120  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:04 AM

I'm guessing this is the wrong place for this question..
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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:11 AM

Agreed. Moving out of C++.
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#4 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 25 July 2012 - 02:37 PM

Steve Skiena has written this excellent book The Algorithm Design Handbook which goes into very good detail about classes of algorithms, how and why they work and how to implement them. Then he advises starting off using premade packages instead of rolling your own whenever possible.

My only experience with buying an algorithm was with using a package that solved linear equations with constraints within a spreadsheet. This was before this came as a standard plugin for Excel. Tech support was excellent.

If your programmers have the mathematical expertise to implement the algorithms, and your company can afford the development time, and the algorithms are core to your way of doing business, do it in house because you'll be growing your company's talent. If they don't have the expertise, or it'll be a one-off project that isn't part of your company's core business, it maybe worth just buying.
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#5 The Architect 2.0  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:28 AM

its alot simpler than you're making it out to be.

its the same outsource vs inhouse calculation you make all the time in business.

the only difference is that it is exceptionally difficult to tell if your inhouse guys produced a quality product if you don't have specific performance requirements to meet.
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#6 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:10 PM

Depending on the difficulty of the problem, and the necessity of efficiency, it becomes a cost-benefit analysis like most of anything else. If you manage to get an NP-Complete or other hellishly annoying algorithm I would seriously consider consultation if you don't have a pretty well-grounded senior around.
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#7 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:55 PM

Actually, there maybe another reason to choose between buying versus building: It hinges on ethics and legal concerns. For example, let's say that we were back in the 90's, and you needed to read and write GIF files. Do you in develop in-house and choose whether or not to pay the patent licensing fee? Or do you buy from a 3rd party and assume that they paid the licensing fee and let them take on the legal risk if they had not?
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#8 The Architect 2.0  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:45 PM

^referring to your first question,

isn't answering 'yes' equivalent to stealing? pretty sure its bad to violate patents in ANY situation*.

*unless one personally enjoys the litigation process

basically, I'm asking why would you NOT license when you KNOW you need to? is it JUST a 'can't afford it' situation?

This post has been edited by The Architect 2.0: 06 August 2012 - 08:46 PM

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#9 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming them yourself

Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:14 PM

I personally think that it is stealing, but I'm also on the side that believes in patents and copyrights as a means towards letting individuals and organizations reap the benefits of their work. (Yes, even as silly as a patent for the "One Click" shopping button can be.) There are others who don't share that belief and claim that ideas cannot be owned. I offered the previous post as another axis of the decision process for build vs. buy.
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