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The Perfect Way To Slice a Pizza 282

Posted by samzenpus
from the equal-distribution-of-the-pie dept.
iamapizza writes "New Scientist reports on the quest of two math boffins for the perfect way to slice a pizza. It's an interesting and in-depth article; 'The problem that bothered them was this. Suppose the harried waiter cuts the pizza off-center, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts. The off-center cuts mean the slices will not all be the same size, so if two people take turns to take neighboring slices, will they get equal shares by the time they have gone right round the pizza — and if not, who will get more?' This is useful, of course, if you're familiar with the concept of 'sharing' a pizza."

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The Perfect Way To Slice a Pizza

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  • Unsure. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hillview (1113491) * on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:11PM (#30446318)

    My biggest pizza cutting dilemma happened just the other day. I wasn't sure I could eat six pieces, so I cut it into four.

    • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:33PM (#30446750) Homepage
      I prefer to roll mine into a giant tube, thus consuming only one piece.

      Also, when people ask what I had for breakfast, I can respond with "A wrap"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sconeu (64226)

      Mod parent +1, Yogi Berra.

      • Cut it into 5... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386)
        ...equal pieces, for a potentially amusing drunkard's challenge.
        Cutting the pizza into 10 and combining slices is considered ungentlemanly behavior (i.e. cheating) in this particular sport.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I used to cringe every time my ex-girlfriend ordered a pizza, because instead of asking "What's the diameter of your large pizza?" or even just "How big is the large?", she would always ask "How many slices is that?"

      It took everything I had not to blurt out profane insults about her intelligence. But somehow I always managed to keep my composure and say calmly "Don't ask that. Ask them what the diameter is."

      Thankfully, my wife is a lot smarter than my ex, so I don't get those sudden surges in my blood press

      • by Nathrael (1251426)
        I suppose there's a reason why she became your ex.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Obfuscant (592200)
        I used to cringe every time my ex-girlfriend ordered a pizza, because instead of asking "What's the diameter of your large pizza?" or even just "How big is the large?", she would always ask "How many slices is that?" It took everything I had not to blurt out profane insults about her intelligence.

        She's actually smarter than you, socially.

        She knew if she was ordering for three, a multiple-of-three slices would give each person the same amount. That's fair if you are sharing. If ordering for four, a multi

    • by clf8 (93379)

      Oh cmon, at least credit Yogi Berra with the quote. Now you simply look like an idiot.

  • Big friggin' laser beams.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:19PM (#30446472)

    than the story that led to the project, I bet.

    Shows you that even geeks have parties sometimes. We just have different topics between the question who pays for the pizza and who gets the last slice.

    • by furby076 (1461805)

      Shows you that even geeks have parties sometimes. We just have different topics between the question who pays for the pizza and who gets the last slice.

      You imply that people eating pizzas, even two or more, is a sign of a geek party. I postulate that geeks aren't even cool enough to have pizza parties amongst themselves...besides a DND group sharing a pizza is no party :)

      • Is too! It is, it is, it is!

        Ah screw it, I put on my robe and wizard's hat, Power Word Die! So there!

        • Two things:

          a) It's Power Word: Kill. (For a 9th-level spell, it's really over-rated.)

          b) Any time you have a group for D&D, it's a party. Pride of lions, murder of crows, party of geeks.

          • Two things:

            a) It's Power Word: Kill. (For a 9th-level spell, it's really over-rated.)

            b) Any time you have a group for D&D, it's a party. Pride of lions, murder of crows, party of geeks.

            Trap sprung.

          • by nschubach (922175)

            party of geeks.

            I thought it was a "summons of geeks"...

    • Irrelevant (Score:2, Insightful)

      by interploy (1387145)
      This isn't a problem in America. We each just get one to ourselves.
    • by julesh (229690)

      than the story that led to the project, I bet.

      Shows you that even geeks have parties sometimes.

      Not very good parties. They only considered the case of two people sharing a single pizza.

  • First a /. poll on pizza and now this... I'm surprised though that there wasn't a reference to slicing different styles of pizza's. Thin crispy crust can really only be cut in triangles (same with stuffed crusts!) while the soggy sloppy pizza's would benefit from smaller splices. Of course size does matter so slicing an extra large pizza would almost always be sliced different from a smaller size.
  • When faced with this problem, I usually take the slice which has the most pepperoni on it. As for pizzas without pepperoni, the method might need some modifications, such as counting the ham pieces, anchovies etc. You might not end up with a largest slice, but you will get the most meat which is fair enough for me.
    • When faced with this problem, I usually take the slice which has the most pepperoni on it. As for pizzas without pepperoni...

      There's pizza without pepperoni? Why would anyone do that?

  • My Esperiement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dwiget001 (1073738)

    One day, I ordered a medium pizza (14 inch) with my standard way: Italian sausage, green pepper, onion, black olive, double shrooms and tomato, with the crust well done. I had them cut that into six pieces instead of their usual eight pieces. I ate the whole thing in 12 minutes and 34 seconds.

    The next day, I ordered the same pizza (from my same fave pizza place down the street), everything was the same, but I had them cut it into their standard eight slices. I ate this in 13 minutes and 17 seconds.

    So, altho

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      That's no evidence. You have to take various factors into account like your current filling state, heat of the pizza on arrival and so forth. If you cannot standardize those parameters, you at the very least have to repeat the experiment a few hundred times to at least claim something resembling scientific value.

      You'll prolly die of arteriosclerosis, but it was for science!

      • O.K., I will take your advice.

        I'll get back to you in about 18 months.

        Well, or I will have the attorney handling my estate post a message as to the results, after my demise.

  • by idontgno (624372)
    "Science" and "Idle" look nothing alike. How did this article get into "Science"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Eravau (12435)
      Because it's not really about the pizza so much as the quest for a mathematical proof of who gets more depending on how the pizza is sliced.
    • by Nathrael (1251426)
      Because only completely useless stuff goes into Idle and this is at least mildly amusing.
  • ...because it promises more than it delivers. The title implies there's a universally perfect way to cut a pizza so everyone gets an equal share. Well, duh. What TFM tells you is how to figure out if everyone is getting an equal share.

    I'll save you some time: Ensure you make an even number of cuts >= 4.

    • There is, provided you have a pizza that is a perfect circle and a perfect distribution of toppings it is even trivial. If you do not, there is no perfect way to cut it. You will end up either with pieces that are of unequal area size or pieces with unequal amounts of crust, or an unequal amount of toppings unless you're willing to cut it in ways that make Gerrymandering districting seem straightforward.

  • 1) A novice pizza cutter can buy a metallic device you place over the pizza which guides your pizza cutter. I worked at a pizza shop and they had one...nobody ever used it.
    2) Two people can easily share 50/50 split of the pizza. The only requirement is that one of the cuts needs to have gone straight down the middle, and that is where you split the pizza from. Essentially, the middle cut is the border. All other cuts just make for a weird shaped pizza slice.
    3) 3 people means cutting the pizza into slic
    • by ubercam (1025540)

      I also worked at a pizza joint for a few months in high school. We cut ours in squares. Most places around here cut pizzas into squares. I prefer this method since it's much easier to eat because of the smaller pieces. If you go in to Pizza Hut, they cut them into the standard slices usually, but for takeout and delivery, most places do squares.

    • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      3) 3 people means cutting the pizza into slices divisible by 3, which is harder.

      I always slice pizza into six pieces.

      Of course, 8 pieces is more mathematically convenient...

  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:27PM (#30446632)

    a slightly foreign concept here, but usually the woman/women get(s) the smaller pieces and everyone's happy. Simple.

  • Other than saying 'rectangular strips', the article does not describe any method to do this. The answer lies in the problem. Cut it perfectly into even sections. To even describe this problem you have to toss that situation out. This reads like a mathematician's dime novel. In short, it sucks. I want my ten minutes back, please.

  • The concentration and distribution of the toppings. Without these, their solution is incomplete.
  • Or a Katana.

  • Tricks from insiders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:33PM (#30446742) Homepage Journal

    I worked at a couple of pizza places when I was in high school. There are actually two perfect ways to slice a pizza:

    1. On a large pizza, make two parallel cuts maybe 3/4" apart on either side of the midline. Set the long, skinny slice aside. The pizza will still appear round, within normal limits of eccentricity. Continue slicing as normal, box it, and send it. Eat the long, skinny slice. Repeat until you are no longer hungry.
    2. Starting slicing from the center of the pizza and working outward. Eyeball it (which you should be pretty good at, since you've sliced thousands of pizzas and you're well-fed for the evening) and carve the pie into 11 or 13 slices. Wonder later if people are still trying to figure out where the extra slice came from, or which greedy SOB ate one piece more than they should have.
    • by Dread_ed (260158) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @05:24PM (#30450040) Homepage

      For some reason the assumption is that everyone wants the same size slice of pizza. I disagree. I prefer a pizza with a variety of slice sizes.

      For instance, large slices are good for large appetites/people (men), while medium and small slices are good for smaller appetitets/people(women and children). Also, the small ones are a perfect finisher when you have just consumed a number of large slices and are just about to bust.

      Also, the slice porportion and their accompanying aesthetics are important. Somedays the fat-looking big slices that are almost a fourth of the pizza look best. Other times the skinny ones that are so slim they can't even legitamately accommodate an intact piece of pepperoni appeal to me. Proportion can weigh as heavily as quantity and distribution of toppings when it comes to choosing the perfect slice.

      Personally, I would be interested in a cutting pattern that guaranteed the most variety of slice sizes.

  • Can we never use the word "boffin" on Slashdot again please? I believe that word is a British colloquial term for "someone who uses their brain to work, but I don't understand it so I'll make up my own word". Around here we're decently intelligent, you can use a word like "mathematician" and not confuse anyone.

    • by corbettw (214229)

      I thought "boffin" had something to do with pornstars (cause they're boffin' each other). Now that you've cleared this up I'll go ahead and click the link while at work.

  • 11 (Score:5, Funny)

    by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:43PM (#30446956) Journal

    I always maximize my pizza by cutting it into 11 pieces. That way I get much more pizza than most people. I get 11 slices.

  • "Suppose the harried waiter cuts the pizza off-centre, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts."

    Now if a waiter (or actually chef) cuts the pizza off-centre, they're almost certainly not going to make the angles consistent.

    (which of course isn't to say that it's not a fun paper)

  • There is a poster here called PizzaAnalogyGuy whose gimmick involves making a pizza analogy in each post. Can we please get a pizza analogy about slicing pizza?
  • The article got it completely wrong!!! Cutting the pizza into squares is the best way! My brother-in-law and I like the crust, my wife and sister-in-law like the middle. This way all four of us get the parts of the pizza we like the most. The ladies don't eat as much, so he and I do have to suffer through some of the inside pieces, but they are small and don't fall apart like the long wedges. And since there is usually a few pieces left over, it isn't important what was fair, only that we got enough to ea
  • by Otto (17870) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @02:02PM (#30447272) Homepage Journal

    Okay, so a three dimensional pizza would be a calzone, but what would a four-dimensional pizza look like?

    More importantly, on a four-dimensional pizza, can you fill the crust with cheese?

    • Okay, so a three dimensional pizza would be a calzone, but what would a four-dimensional pizza look like?

      It would look like the one on my counter the next morning.

  • by RawJoe (712281)
    I've seen something like this [freepatentsonline.com] used at the Costco cafe. Seems to work easier than doing math.
  • Your words confuse me greatly.

    • I know! I had to read it about 3 times before the picture accompanying the article gave me a visual cue. Apparently in the real world, it's a tradition to have other members of the species known as "friends" eat pizzas from the same box as yours - at the same time! Those hands in the picture belong to such a social group, though it is quite apparent that they will die very soon - either due to starvation from lack of pizza, or fighting over the last few slices.
  • Then nobody has to argue and everybody overeats.

  • I'll grab the two largest slices (which are usually adjacent), fold them over and shovel them in my mouth while you are still negotiating a protocol. And I'll pull over extra cheese and toppings from their neighbors while I'm doing it.

  • by COMON$ (806135)
    The problem is, the distribution of the ingrediants is not uniform, so even if you find a way to divide a circle evenly you still have to take in consideration the weight of each piece and distribution of toppings.
  • S-L-I-C-E, slice me nice!
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @02:32PM (#30447734) Journal
    when I worked at Godfather's Pizza, I finally "graduated" to cut table. The guy to cut the pizzas and call out the orders. I used to enjoy having fun sometimes when a pair of semi-buzzed guys would come in and order a pizza. Cut the pizza into 9 pieces with the roller, rather than the rocker, and watch them get upset over who gets the last piece! Ah, fun times as a teenager...
  • If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found a million dollars, the fucker gave me the "donate it to charity" slice.

  • by LanMan04 (790429) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:16PM (#30448402)

    Are we talking perfectly round, frictionless pizzas?

  • And this is, why I am no mathematician. ^^
    “in-depth article” and “slicing pizza” should never ever appear in the same sentence. Ever.

    Suddenly I am much happier about my life. :D
    And if you ever went out for even once in your life, so can you!

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