Oct. 7th, 2016

lookingforoctober: (Default)
Apparently, some mathematicians have discovered an "envy-free" algorithm for dividing up cake between any number of people. (https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161006-new-algorithm-solves-cake-cutting-problem/)

The difference between mathematics and reality is that when I'm cutting cake, even if it's just into two pieces, I inevitably survey the results when I'm done and then go "Oops, this one is bigger and this one is smaller." What I don't do is try to cut little bits off the cake or smear the icing all over the place to try to make it more even, because that would just be messy, and the people for whom I'm generally cutting cake appreciate nice slices that don't look like someone has taken a chainsaw to them over exact equivalence of cake slices.

I just resign myself to having a slightly smaller piece if I'm the one who has to cut it. (Unless it's my birthday cake, because in the past on my birthday I have been generously granted the big piece even though I messed up and made a big piece. But then, it's not like anyone else is reliably exact either, cake-cutting is just like that.)

This outlook, I suppose, is why I'm not a mathematician.

(Truthfully, though, I thought that the cut it and then let the other person chose was because you couldn't complain, not because it was "envy-free". But it's really sort of amusing to image a group of people all gathering around with their cake knives, and doing n-squared steps in order to get it perfect... and then sitting down to eat their collection crumbs...)


lookingforoctober: (Default)

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