Talk:Ariadne's thread (logic)

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The "Distinction from trail and error" section is questionable. They introduce the idea of convergence, which is not mentioned in the [trail and error] article. Introducing the requirement of convergence and iteration in the [trail and error] article would require many changes (like eliminating antibiotic research being largely conducted by trial and error).

I would guess that a better distiction to make is that trial and error is about trying a whole solution, and that Ariadne's thread is a depth-first search through a choice tree when logic does not force a unique path to be taken. -- 17:30, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

The last paragraph "An Ariadne's thread, after the Greek fable of Ariadne, is the element of any deductive logic [...]" seems confusing to me. The rest of the article is very clear at the first reading. Perhaps there's a better way to say: "which binds a cohesive system of thought together in an understandable fashion".

I tried to make that more readable in the new intro. I hope it works for you. - ZM
Zotmeister 21:33, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was no consensus. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 09:11, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

"Ariadne's thread" was the original name of the article; an editor moved it to the current name and then edited the redirect to point to "Ariadne". A person looking up "Ariadne's thread" in an encyclopedia is going to want to read about the logic process, not told to "see Ariadne", which in turn would provide no useful information on the topic (or, in the present "Ariadne" article, even a mention that a separate "Ariadne's thread" article exists). The classic concept of the thread of legend is not worthy of encyclopedic merit on its own, has no article of its own, and has no need of an article of its own (it's adequately referenced in the present "Ariadne's thread (logic)" article). I believe the "(logic)" phrase appended to the title accomplishes nothing, and I think the only result of moving the article was pointless confusion. I have reverted the redirect in the meantime, but am asking for the article move itself to be reverted as a permanent solution - as the redirect was edited, I cannot do this myself. - ZM Zotmeister 16:40, 27 April 2006 (UTC)


  • Support per nom. No need to "disambiguating" qualifier when there's nothing to disambiguate. Duja 05:07, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose the mythological reference is much older and much more widely used than the subject of this article, which is merely an example of it. Therefore Ariadne's thread should direct there, and she should have a dab header here. Septentrionalis 20:31, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


I would ask Pmanderson what contexts the mythological thread is mentioned in (other than the current logic application) that would warrant its own article outside of "Ariadne" or "labyrinth", and how it is that anything could be described as an example of a specific legendary artifact. In fact, by using the term 'example', it sounds like you accept that the term "Ariadne's thread" applies to the process, and should therefore believe the "logic" disambiguator does not apply. - ZM Zotmeister 16:46, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

No, I believe the literary reference is so dominant that if there is an entry at Ariadne's thread it should redirect to Ariadne; with a dab header to this article. Septentrionalis 04:54, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Septentrionalis is clearly right. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 09:11, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

I disagree completely. One thing that admittedly didn't help was how bare-bones the article was, but having finally given it the editing I'd been planning, and assuming anyone else here is willing to actually consider an argument rather than dismiss it offhand, I have three reasons why that redirect is a bad idea:
    • Common sense: a person looking up "Ariadne's thread", even expecting a mythological result, is going to want to learn about the thread, not its namesake. The "Ariadne" article does not provide this - it warrants less than a sentence, hiding in the middle of the article. The "Ariadne's thread" article, as noted, covers this, and links to "Ariadne" for those who wish to learn more about the namesake. Septentrionalis is not clearly right - in fact, "labyrinth" would be a better redirect if that is the desired solution, as that article actually provides a mention of the thread and its use right up front. As it stands, redirecting "Ariadne's thread" to "Ariadne" is about as sensical as redirecting "fire extinguisher" to "fire". I have enhanced the Origin section of the article; as I don't see how this more complete info would fit into the "Ariadne" or "labyrinth" articles (too tangential), I don't see how a redirect away from this article is in anyone's best interest.
    • The prevalence of the mythological reference over the logical procedure is not "utter" - in fact, Wikipedia itself questions it! Simply click on "What links here" for "Ariadne's thread" - as it presently stands, none of those links are related to mythology. (Whoever first moved the article should have fixed those, am I right?) Additionally, web searching seems to note that just as prevalent a use of the name - if not more so - is as a philosophical metaphor. It was news to me! Now if there were an "Ariadne's thread (philosophy)" article already, I could agree with the disambiguation of "Ariadne's thread (logic)", but there isn't one, I'm certainly not qualified to write such an article, and I'm not entirely convinced they should be separate articles. I've tried to represent this in my edit, but it's far from fully developed. If it gets the attention it should, the "(logic)" disambiguator will only become more inappropriate over time, not less.
    • It is not the case that the logical process is an example of the legendary thread. It since occurred to me that it's the other way around! The article now demonstrates this.

I do not see how the present redirect and unnecessary disambiguator are good for any Wikipedia article or any Wikipedia user, and have yet to hear any reason to the contrary. If someone can explain them, I'm all ears, because they make zero sense to me. Otherwise, I intend to revert the redirect again. - ZM
Zotmeister 21:33, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Please don't revert war. I have changed the reference under Sudoku to this article. Discussion about Ariadne belongs in that article, not here. Septentrionalis 23:19, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree that this article should not be a redirect to the Ariadne article, unless the contents of this article are merged into that article. As for "Ariadne's thread" versus "Ariadne's thread (logic)", I am not a Wikipedia style expert, and thus turn the issue over to you guys. GLmathgrant 23:24, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
No one proposes to make this article a redirect. Zotmeister is arguing that Ariadne's thread, which is a redirect, should point to this article, which most users of that phrase do not know of or want; Nightstallion and I think it should point to Ariadne, which most of them will want, and which has a header pointing here. Septentrionalis 02:15, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Please keep this article to its topic. Septentrionalis 21:45, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

This article is as thin as a thread. Some sections are hanging by a thread. In particular "Distinction with Trial and Error"! I've never heard these terms "used interchangeably" -- citation needed. Though there is a sense in which backtracking is just recursive "trial and error": each decision point calls for a "trial" and backtracking organizes the "error recovery"; indeed Donald Knuth describes things this way.

Then the self-referential description of Wiki-page editing indicates to me that this author is just looping inside his/her own brain, and has no examples or facts from any readers' point of view.

I have no doubt that backtracking solvers and exhaustive search algorithms picked up the name "Ariadne's Thread", but the metaphor is quite a strain. The legend itself is not at all concerned with backtracking as a means to organize a search space - the thread simply memoizes a return path, and paints a romantic picture of desperate covert actions. I'm sure a bibliophile could write an entire article on the symbolism of this thread, especially considering Ariadne's ultimate abandonment by Theseus.

But back to backtracking. It is so widely used that I find it stunning anyone would think that its use in Sudoku is somehow "prominent". The first backtracking solver was Dana Scott's pentonimoe solver "Programming a combinatorial puzzle," Technical Report No. 1 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Dept. of Elec. Engr., 10 June 1958), ii + 14 + 5 pages). The Sudoku reference is nice, please keep it, it's just not "prominent". Heck, long division is a backtracking solver (See Knuth "Art of Computer Programming" Vol 2. Seminumerical Algorithms, page 238, especially Figure 7). I believe long division is more prominent than Sudoku, considering most CPUs offer it as an instruction. Greg Sat Oct 12 00:30:50 CDT 2013 —Preceding undated comment added 05:31, 12 October 2013 (UTC)