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Buses on Quantum Schedules

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: Anyone who has waited for a bus in the city has probably casually observed that, after an inordinately long wait, two or three buses often come along at the same time. Mathematical models that simulate traffic flow confirm that bus bunching is a real phenomenon. Even though buses leave their depot at regular intervals, the number of passengers standing at bus stops along a route can vary considerably. The unpredictability in the number of passengers assembled at a given stop has a strong effect on a bus's timeliness... Bus transport in Cuernavaca, Mexico, operates differently. Although passengers wait at bus stops along specified routes, there are no schedules; the buses' activity can be described in terms of mathematical expressions called random matrices, which were originally used to describe the quantum energy levels of large atoms or heavy atomic nuclei.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Statistics, Physics

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