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The Shoelace Problem

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: How should shoes be laced? This seemingly simple question, rooted in everyday life, can provoke passionate argument - and evoke a mathematical response. There are at least three common ways to lace shoes, as illustrated: American (or standard) zigzag, European straight, and quick-action shoe store. Which lacing style a person uses depends on a variety of factors, ranging from aesthetic appeal to tying efficiency. The shoelace question represents a special, restricted instance of the classic traveling salesman problem...

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Graph Theory, Optimization

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