Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 21 News List

And along come two at once... 起而行不如坐著等

Pakistan men read newspapers at a bus stop a day after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, in Islamabad, Nov. 4, 2007.


People frustrated by the delayed arrival of a bus should take the lazy option and wait for it to show up rather than walk to their destination, mathematicians say.

Number crunchers from Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) drew up a formula to calculate whether waiting or walking was the best option for those facing a sporadic bus service.

Their equation has these variables : n, for the number of bus stops spaced along the bus route; d, for the distance along the bus route; Vw, being the bus speed; Vb, the walking speed; and p(t), being the probability in time that a bus will show up.

Their verdict: stick around and wait for the bus at the first stop. If you set off walking, there is a comparatively greater risk that the bus will zoom past before you reach the next stop on the route.

"The answer is intuitive: the optimal strategy is the laziest," the mathematicians say.

Walking becomes the smarter option, though, if the distance to be traveled is less than 1km and there is at least an hour between buses, the investigators told the British weekly New Scientist.

The paper, by Justin Chen, Scott Kominers and Robert Sinnott, appears online in the open-access library of New York's Cornell University. (AFP)










Adam: Man! We've been waiting for this bus forever! Maybe we should just walk.

Kelly: No, if we start walking the bus is sure to come along as soon as we're five minutes down the road. And it'll probably drive through a big puddle and soak us.

Adam: Yeah. Murphy's Law and all that.

Kelly: You could start walking though, just to test it. I'll wait here.

Adam: No, it's all right. I'll wait with you.






Murphy's Law 莫非定律

Murphy's Law refers to the idea that if anything can go wrong, it will, with the worst possible result or timing.


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