So I am trying to write my first paper, that is describing a method that is in a way "solving" a paradoxical situation by creating a new sort of trick that helps to solve a previously difficult problem.

Somehow the word solve doesnt sound right, maybe someone has a better suggestion?

The short and version of the paradox is: "The problems for which efficiency matters the most, because they are extremly computationaly expensive, are also the problems for which it is too expensive to compare and improve algorithms to increase the efficiency."

Now by some kind of trick that i like to describe this situation is "solved".

  • 9
    Have you tried resolve?
    – jxh
    Jan 20, 2015 at 19:54
  • ...Or, eradicated?
    – Oldbag
    Jan 20, 2015 at 19:56
  • you probably also want paradoxical.
    – Jim
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:11
  • deparadoxize
    – ermanen
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:35
  • 1
    If the point of the trick that you introduce is simply to get you out of an awkward logical position, the trick may extricate you from the paradox, or help you escape the paradox.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 21, 2015 at 9:43

6 Answers 6


Depending on how exactly you've addressed the problem, you could describe it as sidestepping the paradox. (Because, of course, a true paradox can't be "resolved" directly.) Other synonyms of "sidestep" include bypass, dodge, circumvent, skirt, avoid, and evade.

Not a single word, but there is a fairly well-known idiom of "cutting the Gordian knot", referring to the legend of Alexander the Great solving an intractable problem (untying an impossible knot) with a single swipe of his sword.

  • In the end i used extricate, but that was only a comment, so i cant accept it as the answer. The suggestions here are, easier to understand and also useful for my particular case, and probably also in other situations.
    – Sarmes
    Apr 28, 2017 at 8:32

When I read the title of your question, I immediately thought of koans, and now that I see that your paper is about computational complexity, I think the word you are looking for will be found in the practice of koans or in hacker koans.

A koan is a teaching tool that presents an idea or story that cannot be resolved by brute-force logic. That attribute is analogous to a problem that is computationally expensive. You specifically used the word paradox, and many of the most well-known koans are paradoxes.

English translations of words that mean solving a koan

Translating words from Chinese and Japanese into English can be difficult if you want to accurately describe the result of solving or understanding a koan. Of course, hundreds of thousands of people have tried, so there are some good candidates. First, a general list:

  1. Epiphany
  2. Enlightenment (this is the primary goal of Buddhism)
  3. Insight
  4. Transcendence
  5. Resolution, as in "to resolve"
  6. Unification (of the self and non-self, or seeing through the illusion of duality)
  7. Realization
  8. Mindfulness
  9. Consciousness (a total or complete consciousness that is in opposition to the typical partially-asleep consciousness)
  10. (Being) awake, or awakening
  11. Understanding

Hacker koans

Especially in computer science disciplines such as computational theory, sudden insight into a problem is common, and it almost seems inevitable that hacker koans would arise.

In one hacker koan, Master Foo tells a C programmer that even though Unix is programmed in C, one line of Unix script has more Unix-nature than 10,000 lines of C code. The koan ends with:

“And who better understands the Unix-nature?” Master Foo asked. “Is it he who writes the ten thousand lines, or he who, perceiving the emptiness of the task, gains merit by not coding?”

Upon hearing this, the programmer was enlightened.

--Master Foo and the Ten Thousand Lines

English computational complexity ∩ koans

I agree that you did not "solve" this problem. Since the word "resolved" comes from the same root as "solved", I do not think it is much better than solved even though it does sound a little better than solved.

From the above list of words, my intuition says the two best are insight and transcendence (in some form, not those exact forms of the words).

There is another option, however, that is implied by the nature of koans and apropos to your topic. Koans emphasize destroying the illusion of dualism, or said differently, identifying opposites as actually being unified. If you have identified a method for comparing the time complexity of two algorithms and your method has a time complexity that is less expensive than either of the two algorithms, then you effectively destroyed the duality-belief that computationally expensive algorithms cannot be measured with a computationally cheap algorithm. In that sense, you unified two ideas that were previously thought to be opposites.

In that sense, you have revised (revised comes from the Latin word, "to see") previously held beliefs. Or disproved, synthesized, or some other similar word.

Good luck with your paper!

  • 1
    I apreciate your kind introduction to koans, and the link you made with my problem/application. But since i was unfamiliar with many of these terminology, i think it could be the case for other readers to, and i need to be brief here. I will however use these ideas in another context. I cant vote yet, but thumbs up!
    – Sarmes
    Jan 28, 2015 at 15:04

By definition of a paradox, it's a situation that cannot be solved. Otherwise, it's not a paradox (e.g. an imprecisely phrased question).

I would use resolve a paradox or disambiguate it to indicate that the statement is no longer a paradox but a question, which can subsequently be solved.


I would use the phrase

threading the needle

For instance,

The problems for which efficiency matters the most, because they are extremely computationally expensive, are also the problems for which it is too expensive to compare and improve algorithms to increase the efficiency. Professor Ndobo's new approach threads this needle by ...

This expression indicates not only a resolution to the problem, but the difficulty of accomplishing it.

  • 1
    I prefere the suggestion of "extricate" but i like this expression in this context to, so i will use it futher on in my writing.
    – Sarmes
    Jan 28, 2015 at 15:15

I would suggest "resolve" in this context.

  • 1
    So would I. But how does this improve on jxh's (earlier) suggestion? Jan 20, 2015 at 22:56
  • It improves it because it is expressed as an actual answer and not merely as a comment to the question. Jan 20, 2015 at 23:06
  • 2
    Oh dear. @Hunter I think you completely misunderstood Edwin's polite-but-rhetorical question - he meant this does not improve jxh's (earlier) suggestion. And I agree, but I suspect his comment was mainly intended as a prompt to Victor to improve his answer. Two things would help - citing a reference, so that it's not just "I think", and explaining how or why it answers the question.
    – user63230
    Jan 21, 2015 at 0:11

Recasting your verb as a noun:

"The solution to this paradox is....."

or, as Victor suggested

"This paradox can be resolved by...."

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