A Global Think Tank Targets The Factory

Can hundreds of research teams working together rewrite the way we manufacture?

There's a classic brainteaser that goes like this: A traveling salesman has to visit five cities in one trip. He can visit them in any order he prefers, using any route he likes. What is his quickest path? It turns out that the only surefire way to solve this problem is by brute force--you have to look at each possible path and tote up the distance. For a five-city trip, there are only a dozen possible paths. But add another ten cities, and the permutations quickly climb into the millions.

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