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Fine Print Comb


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.


The user this program might be a congressman or senator trying to decide if he should vote for a given bill. He might be used by a consumer getting a bank loan or buying a house. The idea is to find unexpected gotchas in the text of the bill, often hidden in the fine print.

You might start by searching for uninteresting stuff and removing it. You might dynamically split the bill up and have various people scan parts of it, with central coordination to make sure everything is covered and some parts where people are not sure get covered by several people. You have have lists of sneaky things that might be present and it looks for their footprints.

You might tackle it with neural net programming — training it with hand-scanned documents.

This is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) program, very difficult It would be a boon to the planet because dishonest people would give up trying to pull a fast one in the fine print, knowing they would be caught.

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