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Recipe Optimiser


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 with an interest in cooking, particularly in cooking for a large number of people, e.g. selling food to the public.

The Problem

Let’s say you wanted to make the perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies (or anything else, even things you put in your mouth or smell but are not foods e.g. toothpaste, shave cream, underarm deodorant or laundry detergent). You can find dozens of existing good recipes. But how you do make the perfect recipe, the one that will taste/smell best to the most people?

The Solution

This take a lot of experimental work. Take your basic recipes, then create many more that are variants, adding a bit more butter, using a little less milk or a little more salt. The variations also include cooking time and oven temperature. Then you make some of batches of cookies, using randomly selected recipes. You give these to people to eat identified only by recipe number. You ask the people rate the cookies. Now, just as in Darwinian evolution, you winnow out the worst recipes. You also automatically create variant recipes based on the recipes still standing. Now repeat the process. This time the overall quality of all the batches will be better. Repeat the entire process until your cookies are perfect enough. Unlike Darwinian evolution, you are permitted to tweak the process manually to speed it along, perhaps based on feedback why people did not like certain cookies.

Your Mission

Your job is to create software to manage the various phases of this work.


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