584: Unsatisfied

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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'Forever comparing, never evaluating on any external scale.  If you were a sort function, you'd never break the nlogn barrier.'
Title text: 'Forever comparing, never evaluating on any external scale. If you were a sort function, you'd never break the nlogn barrier.'


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In this comic Cueball is trying to decide if he wants to stay with Ponytail who he is currently dating or leave her and have a relationship with Megan. The comic suggests that no matter which one he chooses he will never truly achieve happiness because of his longing for the option he chose not to take. In a sense this is a no-win situation.

The title text is referring to a concept in computer science, all comparison based sorting algorithms are incapable of sorting an arbitrary set of n values faster then an order of n*log(n)*k where k is an arbitrary constant and n is the number of values to compare.

If Cueball was capable of establishing an external scale he could use use bucket sort or different order n sorting algorithm, but as he does not know what the best thing for him is he can't establish limits and thus he can't achieve this.


[Cueball, Ponytail, and Megan stand stand looking at each other.]
[Cueball considers who he wants to be with.]
[Cueball thinks of the different bedroom activities the two prefer.]
[Cueball thinks of the different ways that the two women spend their free time.]
[Cueball thinks of how happy he could be with the woman he did not choose.]
[Cueball, even in death, thinks of being dead in a grave near the woman he did not choose.]

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I interpreted the right-most column as Megan fantasising about being with Cueball, but finding her fantasy dissatisfactory as she imagines Cueball will continue to long for Ponytail. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think the title text points to Cueball going through both hypothetical lives. Yuriy206

Last panel

What happens in the last panel? I understand that at least two of the three are dead, and I assume that it's Cueball who continues to dream post mortem, but who is in the other tomb? Is it whatever girl he didn't choose? And the corresponding dream is that the girl he chose didn't even exist (only one tomb in the dream)? (talk) 12:59, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

I think it means that it doesn't matter which girl he chooses, because in both cases he will still be thinking about the other one - even after death. So one tomb is his and one is the girl's he chose, but he's still thinking about the other one(even thougth she's dead).-- 13:01, 9 April 2015 (UTC)