Optimizing a non-linear problem using traditional newtonian methods is often infeasible. Then you may try a grid-type of search, trying to exhaust all of search space. If your space is too big, you have to try non-exhaustive methods. One interesting method is known as the Particle Swarm-algorithm. Read an introduction.
See how an American career-handbook describes the working life of Economists and Marketing Research Analysts. 3 pages (pdf) of interesting reading. I find the section on how some PhD's teach at university while doing part-time consulting especially inspiring.
by Niels on Thursday, November 15, 2001
Sometimes one gets the impression, that no examples exists in which ANNs outperform traditional methods in a practical setting. In Alon, Qi and Sadowski (2001) "Forecasting aggregate retail sales: a comparison of artificial neural networks and traditional methods" we are given an example.
by Niels on Saturday, November 10, 2001
"By 2010, a click on the PC on your desktop will suffice to call up instantly all the computing power you need from what by then will be the world's largest supercomputer, the Internet itself. Supercomputing for the masses will trigger a revolution in the complexity of problems that are tackled, whole disciplines will go digital and, rather than spending time collecting their own data, scientists will organize themselves around shared datasets." Excerpt from Nature. Read the exciting Nature article.