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Delicate Brute Force

Sometimes the way to solve a challenging problem is to just take advantage of the speed of computers and apply a brute-force approach. In one situation, the problem was to find a design space (a set of factor limits that leads to satisfying specification limits on the responses), specifically finding the space that fits within the highly nonlinear constraints implied by the model from limits on the responses. Another problem was to perform hierarchical clustering on the kinds of huge data sets encountered in genomics research, something that used to perform poorly. In each case, rather than solving the problem directly, there are short cuts that combine brute-force computation with delicate application.