TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

The Math of Social Distancing Is a Lesson in Geometry

How to safely reopen offices, schools and other public spaces while keeping people six feet apart comes down to a question mathematicians have been studying for centuries.

Sphere packing might seem like a topic only a mathematician could love. Who else could get excited about finding the most efficient way to arrange circles in the plane, or spheres in space?

But right now, millions of people all over the world are thinking about this very problem.

Determining how to safely reopen buildings and public spaces under social distancing is in part an exercise in geometry: If each person must keep six feet away from everyone else, then figuring out how many people can sit in a classroom or a dining room is a question about packing non-overlapping circles into floor plans.

Continued here


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