Monday, September 8, 2014

A Breakthrough In Bicycle Acquisition Mathematics

Ladies and gentlemen, I am about to revolutionize the field of Bicycle Acquisition Mathematics as we know it.

For years, experts in the field held that the ideal number of bicycles owned could be represented by the following formula:

B = n+1

Where B represents the ideal number of bicycles owned, and n equals the number of bicycles currently owned. It is simple. It is elegant. And it has served us well. But it is incorrect.

(pause for incredulous gasps)

I propose the following formula instead:

B = 2 (n+1)

Where (again) B represents the ideal number of bicycles owned, and n equals the number of bicycles currently owned. However, a multiplier has been added, doubling the number of bicycles. I call this the Futz Factor.

Under the revised Nunemaker Acquisition Equation with Futz Factor, the bicycle purchaser buys two of the exact same bicycle each time he or she adds to the collection. This seeming redundancy accounts for both entropy and for the bicycle owner's need to upgrade and/or inability to leave well enough alone.

How does it work? Say you're getting ready to leave for work in the morning. But what's this? Your commute bike has a flat! Entropy at work. Under the old n+1 equation, you're forced to ride a completely different bike. Maybe that bike can't carry your commuting luggage. Maybe its pedals require different shoes. But under the 2 (n+1) equation, a second bike exactly like the one you wanted to ride is hanging there waiting for you.

Or maybe you get the urge to upgrade your bike. Some different tires. A new saddle. Pink handlebar tape. Under the n+1 equation, if you aren't happy with your upgrade, you're either stuck with it, or you have the shame of taking it apart to return it to its original configuration. With 2 (n+1), you have an instant "Undo" button, Control-Z in real life.

So, serial bicycle acquirers, it's time to start building bigger garages. And spouses of serial bicycle acquirers, you have my sympathy.


Chad said...

I think you're on to something her. But maybe you went too far. Consider this example: I own 3 bicycles (A, B, and C). Now it's time to get a new one, so I follow your formula. B=2(3+1)=8. Now I have 8 bicycles (A, A, B, B, C, C, D, and D).

Here's the problem. Now I need to buy again. So B=18. But I already have duplicates of A, B, C and D. Following your formula, I will then have 4 of each.

Respectfully, a QA engineer at Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica :)

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Thanks for the peer review, Chad. Clearly, English majors should not attempt anything beyond rudimentary algebra.

I still think the principle of duplicate bikes has merit, but obviously, I need to erase my whiteboard and start over.