Recently the extractor fan in my bathroom has started malfunctioning, occasionally grinding and stalling. The infuriating thing is that the grinding noise isn’t perfectly periodic – it is approximately so, but there are occasionally long gaps and the short gaps vary slightly. This lack of predictability makes the noise incredibly annoying, and hard to tune out. Before getting it fixed, I decided to investigate it a bit further.
As a poor student, I always tried to keep a close eye on what I spent. This usually amounted to skimming statements and manually keeping track of what went where, a decidedly sub-optimal solution.
Here’s a fun problem I came across when trying to analyse some data, which I thought I’d write up to illustrate the kind of interesting puzzles I get paid to solve as a physicist. Perhaps have a go yourselves and let me know if there are more intuitive solutions.
In this third of a trinity of posts involving the travelling salesman problem, we finally use the sophisticated algorithms at our disposal as they were intended: drinking with peak efficiency.
With the aid of a well-placed Christmas present detailing the best pubs in London, I found the optimal route around a reasonable subset of them.
This is the second in a series of posts involving the travelling salesman problem, somehow even more frivolous than the first. This is no coincidence, as I have recently been reading the excellent book ‘In Pursuit of the Travelling Salesman‘, which goes into great detail on the history of the problem and algorithmic techniques for tackling it. The topic which caught my eye was decidedly less technical, as we shall see below.
In the finest traditions of christmas, how about a timely blog post meant to cynically cash in on a blogosphere craving seasonal articles about nothing much in particular (see previous, sadly failed, attempt). What are the implications of Santa flying around the UK in a single night?
I saw a ‘simple’ puzzle on the internet which I thought I’d have a crack at in an evening. Several furious scribblings on the bus and the sofa later, I finally have an answer. I’m so relieved I can’t help but share the joy.