In the P vs. NP problem, the P stands for polynomial and the NP stands for nondeterministic polynomial time. Did we lose you? Let's back up. In simpler terms, P stands for problems that are easy for computers to solve, and NP stands for problems that are not easy for computers to solve, but are easy for them to check. Here's when an example might be helpful: "A farmer wants to take 100 watermelons of different masses to the market. She needs to pack the watermelons into boxes. Each box can only hold 20 kilograms without breaking. The farmer needs to know if 10 boxes will be enough for her to carry all 100 watermelons to market."

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This sample problem is not easy to solve; it requires you to go through every dang possible combination. Checking the final answer, however, is pretty easy. All P problems are also NP problems (if a computer can easily solve it, the computer can also easily check it). The question remains open: Are P problems and NP problems the same type of problem? Or, are there are some problems that are easily verified but not easily solved?

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