Waiting for a bus that never seems to come can be one of life’s more aggravating moments. No need to sit around getting all frustrated with underfunded services though. Thanks to the power of mathematics we now know that you should justbe lazy and sit and wait for the bus.
Scott Kominers, a mathematician at Harvard University, and his colleagues derived a formula for the optimal time that you should wait for a tardy bus at each stop en route before giving up and walking on. “Many mathematicians probably ponder this on their way to work, but never get round to working it out,” he says.
The team found that the solution was surprisingly simple. When both options seem reasonably attractive, the formula advises you to choose the “lazy” option: wait at the first stop, no matter how frustrating (www.arxiv.org/abs/0801.0297).