Polynomial-time programs (those whose Big O is O(nk) for some constant k) will plot as straight lines on log-log paper. A factor of log n will probably not be noticeable.
If a program's time curves upward on a log-log plot, it is probably intractable, exponential, NP-complete, O(2n), and very bad news: unless your problem is very small, you will not be able to solve it with any amount of computers.
However, some important NP-complete problems have polynomial-time approximate solutions that are pretty good.
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