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This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is a project for someone interested in psychology or self help. People have the same old problems.

People are unlikely to seek help with such problems because the are not seen as pathology, just part of life. However, they may be willing to confide in a computer program and take fortune cookie advice from one.

The computer program could dispense standard conservative advice gleaned from thousands of books on dealing with such problems. However, it would use random number generators so it did not dispense the same advice every time. Different answers would get different weights.

The easiest to program would be a set of multiple choice questions, where the next question depends on the answers to the previous questions. You might invent a script language that your program interprets to make it easy for non-programmers to extend the program. It could be a simple as a CSV (Comma-Separated Value) file or an elaborate grammar requiring a parser.

A slightly clever version might allow free-form text. You look for keywords and phrases. A still cleverer version would attempt to syntactically analyse and extract meanings.

living love
pseudo-random numbers

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