Join the Queue

In queuing theory (yes, there is such a thing), there is a strange result. If the rate that a company can satisfy the needs of customers is exactly equal to the rate that the customers randomly walk up to the counter, than the wait time will diverge to infinity (not that anyone waits for an infinite time, but that the queue gets longer and longer without bound). The simple explanation is that the time that the counter was idle with no customers is forever wasted. Recently, I was reminded of this principle when I walked up to a counter that was idle (no line), and by the time I was finished – probably less than two minutes later – there was a line of two dozen people waiting to be served.

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Author: lnemzer

Assistant Professor Nova Southeastern University

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