Using math to pick the fastest line at the supermarket
The New York Times has an interesting piece on how to pick the fastest line at the supermarket – and it might be different than what you think!
You dash into the supermarket for a few necessities. You figure it will be 10 minutes — tops — before you are done and on your way home.
Then you get to the checkout lanes and they are brimming with shoppers. Your plan for a quick exit begins to evaporate.
But all is not lost.
For anyone who has ever had to stand in line (or if you are a New Yorker, you stand on line) at a supermarket, retailer, bank or anywhere else, here are some tips from experts for picking the line that will move the fastest.
Get behind a shopper who has a full cart
That may seem counterintuitive, but data tell a different story, said Dan Meyer, a former high school math teacher who is the chief academic officer at Desmos, where he explores the future of math, technology and learning.
“Every person requires a fixed amount of time to say hello, pay, say goodbye and clear out of the lane,” he said in an email. His research found all of that takes an average of 41 seconds per person and items to be rung up take about three seconds each.
That means getting in line with numerous people who have fewer things can be a poor choice.
Think of it this way: One person with 100 items to be rung up will take an average of almost six minutes to process. If you get in a line with four people who each have 20 items, it will take an average of nearly seven minutes.
Those minutes add up. Richard Larson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who is considered the foremost expert on queues, estimated that Americans spend 37 billion hours a year waiting in lines.
Adafruit has had paid day off for voting for our team for years, if you need help getting that going for your organization, let us know – we can share how and why we did this as well as the good results. Here are some resources for voting by mail, voting in person, and some NY resources for our NY based teams as well. If there are additional resources to add, please let us know – adafruit.com/vote
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.