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Operations Researcher Applies Math to Speed Students to Their Math Classes

November 10, 2010 

In a November Discoveries + Breakthroughs Inside Science video, operations researcher Sam Thangiah (Slippery Rock University) outlines how mathematics and graph theory can result in saving time, money, and jobs. 

Using 2010 census data and maps detailing roads, railroad crossings, and rivers, Thangiah came up with an intelligent algorithm of the fastest and cheapest ways to bus local students in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, to their classes. 

Their new routes resemble skinny slices of pizza or flower petals rather than a jumble of intersecting lines because, according to Thangiah, “Every time routes crisscross, the travel time of the student or the actual distance the bus travels increases." 

The Slippery Rock Area School District tested Thangiahýs program and has since reduced the number of bus routes from 27 to 25, saving a total of $70,000, or enough money to hire a teacher with 5-7 years of experience. 

Thangiah is working to standardize his computer program for others. 

Source: Discoveries + Breakthroughs Inside Science (November 1, 2010)

Start Date: 
Wednesday, November 10, 2010