Friday, June 22, 2007


You have no idea how many times I've considered this subject. Just about every time I'm in a grocery store. As a good computer science student, I've known since I was a beer swilling 20-something that a single queue and multiple processors was the optimum configuration for any service.

I've noticed over the last 20 years that banks have got the message. But grocery stores haven't. I've assumed the accountants in the back of the GroceryMarts have considered the possibility, studied it carefully, then concluded that the grocery cart is too cumbersome to navigate through a single queue that snakes through the front of the store to a battery of checkout stands to service them. These wise characters then went back to counting their money--resting assured that the current one-queue-to-one-checker is the optimal arrangement.

I guess I've been right, and they've been wrong all along. Damned I'm pissed.


Blogger brent said...

I thought the two semesters of Queueing Theory I took in graduate school was some of the most interesting stuff I encountered. The obvious application was in routing network packets, but we did a lot of other examples like bank teller queues and cars waiting funneling into a tunnel or on to a bridge. Amazing stuff. And one of the few classes for which I used calculus, and even gasp, Laplace transforms (maybe that was in the class on Markov processes). Anyway, queueing theory was there at the birth of TCP/IP, at least I like to think so. I have pretty much purged my bookcases of physical books, but I've saved my two volumes of Queueing Theory by Kleinrock. Besides, they had Escher prints on the covers :)

11:46 PM  

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