Lesson 055: Filtering methodologies
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 4/24 ('The Mind's Eye')


LaForge and Data are studying a Federation shuttle craft, which appears to have been in a battle with the Klingons. This appears quite unusual as the Klingons are an ally of the Federation.

Examining the energy burst patterns on the attack impacted areas of the shuttle craft indicates hundreds of possible answers to the question of who might have been responsible for the actual attack.

LaForge recommends to Data that they should use a little common sense first to narrow down the search selection, instead of just plowing through all the possible attacker scenarios.

LaForge focuses in on the solution by posing the argument of who has the most to gain with breaking the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The answer was obvious - the Romulans. This is quickly validated with a blast pattern match.


This methodical approach (although simple in concept) of addressing situations where there are multiple, even potentially millions of possible candidates as possible solutions to a problem, is still not practiced very well by organizations.

Given the efficiency of computers, many organizations choose to use an analog method of sequentially canvassing all possibilities, rather than approaching issues intelligently and narrowing down the list of possibilities first.

Successful salesmen always use the approach of narrowing in on target areas first when marketing their product and services.

They understand that the random mass mailing to thousands method of sales is usually futile and the return on investment is extremely low to almost non-existent. However, a well-coordinated, well-researched campaign strategy will result in more successes for less effort and less expenses. Through strategic deployment of marketing resources there is always a greater possibility of success.

Sometimes, if the list cannot be easily narrowed down based on any best candidate algorithm, then the list can at least be reduced by eliminating the worst or most incompatible candidates.

In addition to the savings in effort and cost, there is also the benefit of savings in time.

As in the case with LaForge, identifying who the real enemy is before the next attack occurs, does not afford the luxury of time to filter through all possible potential enemies - even with warp speed computers.

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