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Critical Reasoning: Investigation Questions

To allow a supercomputer to function as efficiently as possible, the positioning of the internal components has to be planned so that any combination of departure point and arrival point is connected through the shortest possible route, allowing the data to travel through the system as quickly as possible. Supercomputers are designed with a primary information route which transports the bulk of the information through the system. Because this primary route is prone to data congestion, while designing a new supercomputer circuit, a computer manufacturing company has developed a plan to improve efficiency by introducing two additional primary information routes, instead of the standard single primary route, allowing the communication load to be shared.  

Which of the following would be most useful to establish in order to evaluate the plan developed by the computer manufacturer?

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

The company's plan is focused on making a more efficient product. Since financial issues are not discussed in the argument, they are not influential to this plan. Whether or not the new computer circuit is more expensive, achieving more efficient data transfer would mean the plan is successful.

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

This answer choice claims that the crucial factor is whether the triple route system is exactly three times faster than the single route system. However, this is useful only if the answer is 'yes'. If the answer is 'no', we have no idea if the new system is more efficient, because it could be half as fast or twice as fast as the original single route system.

There's an answer choice which suggests a more accurate key factor. Look for it!

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

The company is attempting to create a circuit with improved data transfer efficiency. The plan in the argument focuses on this goal. Since production times, costs, revenues, and profits are not discussed, these factors are irrelevant when establishing the success of the plan.

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

The argument tells us that the problem with having only one primary information route is data congestion. This means that the route is sometimes very busy. This answer choice suggests testing the time it takes for single data messages to travel through each system. However, this test would be irrelevant since a single message cannot cause congestion, the problem which the new system seeks to solve.

Brilliant!

[[snippet]]

This answer choice brings forward a factor that should be verified before concluding that the system with three primary routes is better than the single route system. When a data message is sent it will have to be told which of the three routes to take so as to optimize the advantage of having 3 routes in the first place. This traffic management will require computation and, therefore, time.

If this time is very small, the triple route circuit will have improved efficiency over the single route one. However, if traffic management significantly delays the data's transportation, having three routes might even reduce efficiency.

Whether the addition of another two primary information routes will lead to a dramatic rise in the retail price of supercomputers produced by the manufacturer
Whether the time it takes data to travel through a system with three primary information routes is three times faster than the time it takes the same amount of data to travel the same distance in a system with only one primary information route
Whether producing the improved circuit will take significantly longer than producing a circuit with only one primary information route
Whether the time needed for a single data message to be transferred using a system with a single primary information route is shorter than the time needed for the same data message to be transferred using a system with a triple primary information route
Whether the process of the assignment of data to the appropriate primary information route will constitute a significant added delay