Globe delivery woes become a case study - for an algebra class in Weston

Larry Davidson, who teaches math at Weston High School, reports a fellow teacher used the Globe's delivery problems, in particular, the new delivery company's inability to develop good routes for carriers, to develop a lesson plan:

The biggest issue was the “traveling salesman problem”: trying to find the most efficient route through a large number of locations. We simulated the problem by asking each group to find the shortest path to deliver papers to all their homes (as well as a couple of other sites). Since we couldn’t have realistically large groups, we at least were able to add interest and complexity by ensuring that each group contained a mixture of Weston and Boston students. There’s no perfect general solution, but we were able to compare different options.

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Why hasn't the Globe been

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Why hasn't the Globe been sued for breach of contract yet?

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It's been a while since I last took algebra

Is this the math problem where the salesman is actually more interested in the value of land his home office is located on and spends most of his time focused on selling $9 dixie cups of beers?

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Globe delivery

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Has the Globe proposed a reimbursement for those who have paid for not what we got?

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I wrote my thesis on this!

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The Traveling Salesman problem is one of the most famous ones in Math. I wrote software for my grad school thesis that solved the problem for a randomly generated map using different algorithms and telling the user the optimal route.

I'm not saying this to brag. I'm saying this because back in 1992, on a crappy pc that didn't even have Windows on it and had a 386 processor, a piece of software written by a student (in Pascal if you're wondering) could optimize the delivery of newspapers.

Now it's 2016 and classroom full of students figured it out but a company that relies on efficient delivery routes can't?

Also, Math is awesome and I applaud the teacher for being interesting to the students.

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BOSTON GLOBE

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The delivery system before the change was working. I would send a tip to my provider every week rather than putting it on my Globe invoice. I would thank him/her for putting the paper on my porch. With the change, I did not receive anything for a week, then the paper would be thrown into my driveway, under my car at 11am, long after I had left for work. Now it is being thrown in my driveway and on Sunday's I receive either the NY TIMES OR THE GLOBE AT 11:30. THE QUESTION IS DO I PAY OR IS THE GLOBE GOING TO RECOGNIZE THIS SCREWUP AND COMPENSATE US.

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Your Math is all wrong.

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Math + logic is needed to solve your problem.

you cannot assume shortest = easiest = most efficient

First off what is shortest?
Number of miles or shortest amount of time?

to do an paper route efficiently you have to weight route miles vs ability to get paper to correct location. With this there are variables like time, traffic and location requirement of paper.

location requirement is the most important variable. If you need to put the newspaper in the newspaper slot of a mailbox/paper box, then you have to make sure the box is on the driver side of the car, otherwise its inefficient to keep reaching over the passenger side to do the inserting into the box.
Even driving more miles to make sure most of your papers are exiting the car on the driver side is more efficient then driving less miles, and actually uses less gas.

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