Which is faster — an express line with multiple shoppers or a regular line with one shopper who has a large basket? That question has obsessed California math teacher Dan Meyer for years. “It's my Da Vinci Code,” he says on his blog (http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=4646). What complicates the problem is that “there are easily a dozen variables affecting the line speed that have nothing to do with the number of customers in each line or the number of items in their baskets,” he writes. Still, ...

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