Tag: mathematics

An Analysis of Supermarket Checkout Times
An analysis of supermarket checkout times has shown that express lanes (for people with fewer than 5 items, say) are not always the most efficient checkout route for timesensitive shoppers. Dan Meyer, a high school maths teacher, has done the hard work (providing his data and analysis) and came to the following conclusion: [Express lanes]…

The Story of Big Numbers
Physicist Albert Bartlett is quoted as saying that “the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function”. Starting with a thought experiment in which two competitors are challenged to come up with the bigger finite number, Scott AaronsonÂ has writtenÂ an accessible and factfilled essay about large numbers, touching on topics…

Learn Statistics, Damn You!
Thanks to my moderate knowledge of statistics, I know that I have a lot more to learn in the field and should never make assumptions about data or analyses (even my own). Because of this I share a grievance with Zed Shaw who says thatÂ “programmers need to learn statistics or I will kill them all”.…

Being Rational About Risk
Leonard Mlodinowâphysicist at CaltechÂ and author of The Drunkard’s Walk, a highlypraised book looking at randomness and our inability to take it into accountâhas an interview in The New York Times about understanding risk. Some choice quotes: I find that predicting the course of our lives is like predicting the weather. You might be able to…

The Birthday Problem
I’ve heard of this ‘problem’ numerous times before, as I’m sure many others have too. Nonetheless, everytime I do hear it, it fascinates me. The birthday problem (or paradox, as it’s often referred), looks at the probability of two or more people from a randomly chosen set of people sharing a birthday. In a group…

Applying Mathematics to Escher’s Print Gallery
Prentententoonstellingâor Print Galleryâis a recursive M. C. Escher drawing. For Mathematics Awareness Month 2003, Escher and the Droste Effect delves into the mathematics behind one of Escher’s more intriguing pieces. The following from the published article. [Prentententoonstelling] shows a young man standing in an exhibition gallery, viewing a print of a Mediterranean seaport. As his…