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Archive for October 10th, 2009

Waiting in LineNum

They sure look slick.

They sure look slick.

In line at Safeway today I had a thought, what determine the probability that someone will switch lines?

I figure it has to rely on a decaying exponential that depends on time. These would increase the probability of switching lines:

  • Number of people in front
  • Length of other lines (if shorter)
  • Speed at which current line is moving
  • Size of cart/basket (if smaller)

While these factors would decrease the probability:

  • Number of people behind
  • Length of other lines if they are longer
  • Speed of other lines
  • Mobility of purchase load (if larger)
  • Time invested in current line
  • Loud or annoying people in other line

I am sure it is feasible to do a study on how often people do switch lines, likely similar to changing lanes in traffic. If that study exists or will one day exist I hope that a mathematical model is included. The major component will be e^(-α t) with α dependent on the person in line.

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