I'm reading a combinatorics books, and I was searching for assignments (questions) on Elementary Symmetric Functions, which are quite simply fundamental functions that have the property of swapping variables doesn't change what it is, for example x+y is symmetric, x^2+y^2 is another x^2y+y^2x is, and so forth.
Finding them isn't difficult, it's not the nicest algorithm to implement but iterating over permutations is not hard.
I found http://www.google.com/patents/US8332185 this. Now.... there's A LOT of crap in this, like http://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/US8332185B2/US08332185-20121211-D00002.png that picture, and talks about how a computer able to calculate this may be networked. Why is this in a patent?
Then there's stuff like:
Bus 212 allows data communication between central processor 214 and system memory 216, which may include both read only memory (ROM) or flash memory (neither shown), and random access memory (RAM) (not shown)
They've not invented a computer ONLY able to carry out this task! That is how a computer works, portable code....
It gets more weird:
I'm not quite sure why that is in a patent, that's like inventing something and describing a "planetary body" with which you made it on as a part of the setup. Is it relevant?
It is possible to implement the processes of FIGS. 4-6B in computer software program code executable by a computer processor. By way of example, one manner of implementing the steps of FIGS. 6A-6B (expressed in pseudo-code) follows:
Does a patent have a minimum word count? It's not just "it is possible to do this" but on a computer software program! For execution by a computer processor! (so doing it in an interpreted languages? or VM targeting language?) "OMG!"
Now I'm a little worried, if I made a program that spat out these polynomials for me (rather than me iterating by hand on some scrap paper) then stuck some free-software license and gave it to the world, am I infringing on their patent?
I am extra-shocked because while software-patenting is horrific in the EU it cannot be patented, as it falls under "mathematics", so can someone that appears in chapter 1 of almost every combinatorics book be patented?
Iterating over permutations isn't far from counting (a permutation of numbers represent something), they have made it such a choir to read, I gave up and skimmed!
So I suppose my question is, how is this allowed? They have put some stuff in about where they might use these polynomials, but not how, surely - if anything - using them in a certain way is the invention! I wouldn't call it an invention, but the case is surely stronger?