from the buddy-can-you-spare-an-eighteener? dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "There are mostly four kinds of coins in circulation in the U.S: 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, and 25 cents. But is it the most efficient way to give back change? This Science News article says that a computer scientist has found an answer. "For the current four-denomination system, [Jeffrey Shallit of the University of Waterloo] found that, on average, a change-maker must return 4.70 coins with every transaction. He discovered two sets of four denominations that minimize the transaction cost. The combination of 1 cent, 5 cents, 18 cents, and 25 cents requires only 3.89 coins in change per transaction, as does the combination of 1 cent, 5 cents, 18 cents, and 29 cents." He also found that change could be done more efficiently in Canada with the introduction of an 83-cent coin and in Europe with the addition of a 1.33- or 1.37-Euro coin. Check this column for more details and references." The paper (postscript) is online.
"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts
most subtly on the human will."
-- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"