Tag Archives: Cal Tech

The eternal question (or, Bus Chick vs. game theory)

From the NYT’s Year in Ideas (via Dave):

You arrive at the bus stop to catch the ride to work, but the bus isn’t there. Your destination isn’t very far, so you think, Hmm, maybe I should just walk. But then you might find yourself halfway between stops when the bus whips past, which would be deeply annoying. What to do? Should you walk or should you wait?

Apparently, a few bus nerds from Harvard and Cal Tech were determined to find an answer to this question.

[They] drew up the problem as a classic game-theory dilemma, began crunching the numbers [or they could have just texted MyBus] and, three pages later, had their answer:

You should probably wait — and whatever you do, don’t second-guess yourself.

Buses [other than the 48], after all, are usually punctual and move much faster than you.

Read the rest …

That figures. When presented with this dilemma, I almost always choose to walk.