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The Perfect Way To Slice a Pizza

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the equal-distribution-of-the-pie dept.

Math 282

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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282 comments

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Unsure. (5, Funny)

Hillview (1113491) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unsure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446428)

A standard pizza is usually cut in 8 pieces. Who cuts it into 6?

Re:Unsure. (5, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446492)

A standard pizza is usually cut in 8 pieces. Who cuts it into 6?

It was a Metric pizza

Re:Unsure. (5, Funny)

crazypip666 (930562) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446730)

A metric pizza should have ten slices.

Re:Unsure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447130)

Yes, that's how you get 'decipizzas'. You can also cut it in hundred slices ('centipizzas') or even thousand ('millipizzas').

Re:Unsure. (1)

Scootin159 (557129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446528)

Someone not hungry enough for 8 pieces. That, or a group of 3 or 6 people.

Re:Unsure. (4, Funny)

von_rick (944421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446674)

Could be a group of 1.5 people as well.

Re:Unsure. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446722)

Midget jokes in 3, 2, 1...

Re:Unsure. (2, Funny)

Whalou (721698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446962)

.5...

Re:Unsure. (1)

irondonkey (1137243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447116)

.25...

Re:Unsure. (5, Funny)

CecilPL (1258010) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447302)

This thread is going nowhere.

Re:Unsure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447424)

Positive nowhere, that is.

Re:Unsure. (2, Insightful)

Ruede (824831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446664)

a standard grocery store pizza is too small for adequate sized 1/8th slices.

Re:Unsure. (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447028)

Places that sell by the slice and want to sell big slices. A pizza place I used to work for cut the pizza we sold by the slice into 6 (16" pizza) slices so they are big enough to fold in half to eat them (New York style), and so you feel like you are getting your money's worth.

Re:Unsure. (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447398)

A standard pizza is usually cut in 8 pieces. Who cuts it into 6?

I agree. Although, my wife makes me cut the Papa Murphy's family sized pizza into 12 pieces.

4 whole pieces? (5, Funny)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446750)

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:4 whole pieces? (5, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447278)

Thanks, that's the best laugh of the day. I've ordered $180 worth of pizza for dinner tonight (it's a dinner meeting for 35 people) and I was thinking about someone rolling these 18", 2" deep jumbos into a wrap.

Someone on /. has a sig that said:

A pizza with depth a and radius z has a volume of pi z z a.

Re:4 whole pieces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447484)

i'm stealing this.

Re:Unsure. (2, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446930)

Mod parent +1, Yogi Berra.

Re:Unsure. (1)

Redbaran (918344) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447080)

You laugh, but in college, I worked a pizza joint and saw people go through this thought process, just the other way around. They needed to feed more people, so they had the pizzas cut into 10 slices instead of 8. Apparently, these people thought we had Jesus working in the back to feed more people with the same number of pizzas.

Re:Unsure. (1)

CecilPL (1258010) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447368)

Well, most people have a general idea of how much pizza they can eat in one sitting, and it doesn't involve getting out the protractor.

Not to mention that pizza is so calorie-dense most people eat way more than they actually need - smaller pieces forces them to slow down a bit. :)

Re:Unsure. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447144)

Lorenzo's on South Street in Philly.

They are some huge slices.

Paging PizzaAnalogyGuy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446346)

Paging PizzaAnalogyGuy!

I'm hungry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446350)

Do we have to talk about Pizza?

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446376)

You can cut a pizza?

Re:Wait, what? (2, Funny)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446864)

Only if you're willing to cut the cheese.

squares (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446378)

That is why the perfect way to cut a pizza is in small squares.

Re:squares (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446584)

No, no way. If you cut in small squares, there's no guarantee that both people will get the same amount of pizza.

You can get a decent approximation, if after cutting the pizza you allow the pizza eaters to take turns selecting pieces, reversing the order of selection each time through (for four people, ABCD-DCBA-ABCD etc).

The only fair way to apportion the pizza is to auction the pieces.

Re:squares (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446652)

You have time, can cut a pizza exactly with only a pizza compass, and pizza ruler.
These days people usually use a laser pizza cutter with olive and anchovy image recognition.

Laser beams (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446380)

Big friggin' laser beams.

I'd prefer to use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446654)

...a plasma rifle in the 40 watt range.

solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446392)

buy another pizza, more to share, more potential for leftovers. seriously.

The results are less interesting (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:The results are less interesting (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446670)

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 :)

Re:The results are less interesting (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446776)

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!

Re:The results are less interesting (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447180)

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.

Re:The results are less interesting (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447524)

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.

Sorry, no sharks. (1)

Slartibartfass (1131161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446474)

With a carbon dioxide laser, of course. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej3KSfVU5aw [youtube.com]

Re:Sorry, no sharks. (0, Offtopic)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447296)

Well, that movie is the best proof that carbon dioxide causes heat. Get that, global warming deniers! :-)

Quite Fitting (1)

JamJam (785046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446486)

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.

What the fuck? (-1, Flamebait)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446500)

Seriously, fire samzenpus. Please.

Shocking (0, Troll)

Escaflowne (199760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446524)

What a surprise! Another useless idle post by samzenpus.

Re:Shocking (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446746)

"Idle is a complete waste of your time, don 't go there."

What part of that do you not understand?

Re:Shocking (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446916)

and what part of "Science" section did you not get?

Re:Shocking (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446924)

Well, this is in Science.

Re:Shocking (1)

Hillview (1113491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447036)

Well, this is the science of pizza cutting. And pizza is never a waste of time. ;)

Re:Shocking (1)

Escaflowne (199760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446986)

The part where this is classified under 'science' and thus goes above my personal filter. I already filter out idle stories, but this obviously still came through since it's under 'science.'

It's a way to inflate the number of reads on a story they contribute since they already know many people filter out idle stories. It's getting ridiculous lately.

Re:Shocking (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447058)

In this context, maybe Samzenpus being praised?

Re:Shocking (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447104)

"Idle is a complete waste of your time, don 't go there."

What part of that do you not understand?

Read the URL. This is not idle. What part of science.slashdot.org did you not read?

Count the pepperoni (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446544)

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.

Re:Count the pepperoni (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446902)

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?

If there's no pepperoni... (1)

moosehooey (953907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447196)

I always go for the piece which has cheese and sauce going closest to the edge, so that I have less un-topped crust and more topped pizza. If it's your thing, you can also go for the piece with the bubble.

My Esperiement (1, Interesting)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446564)

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, although it took me less time to eat the six piece version of the same pizza, I also felt fuller.

Conclusion: With fewer slices, I ate them faster and, as a result, felt fuller.

From now on, if I am really hungry, I am getting the six slice version.

Re:My Esperiement (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446940)

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!

Re:My Esperiement (1)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447152)

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.

Divide it first (1)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446566)

If it's just two of us. I try to find the cut that best divides the pizza in half and just separate then before either of us takes a slice.

Re:Divide it first (2, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447354)

This is an easy problem: have one person cut the pizza, and have the other divide the slices. That's about the easiest way in the world to make sure that the division is honest and fair.

Limewire (1)

ScottySniper (1699386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446568)

Sometimes if I'm not that hungry, I will only have 6 slices. What's sharing? How can you P2P a pizza?

Re:Limewire (4, Funny)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446666)

"You wouldn't copy a pizza, would you?"

Re:Limewire (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446882)

You wouldn't download crazy bread...

Re:Limewire (1)

jscott (11965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446972)

You wouldn't download a pizza, would you?

Re:Limewire (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446734)

The RIAA will come after geeks who consider sharing....so you better be careful, these guys arent' too bright and may not understand that P2P pizza sharing is OK.

WTF (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446582)

"Science" and "Idle" look nothing alike. How did this article get into "Science"?

Re:WTF (2, Informative)

Eravau (12435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447208)

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.

Misleading title (1)

OscarGunther (96736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446594)

...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.

Re:Misleading title (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447038)

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.

It's not that hard (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446624)

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 slices divisible by 3, which is harder.
4) 4 people = cutting slices divisible by 2, but now you need to concern yourself with two lines perfectly intersecting the middle - plus you either get 4 or 8 slices.

Pizza shops cut their pizzas to serve 8 slices. That's 4 cuts which would resemble the insignia on the british flag.

Re:It's not that hard (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447220)

5)Pizza is a food that can be eaten by humans
6)Pizza is not a cat
7)Though, cats may eat Pizza.
8)A Pizza that has saurkrout on it, is not a good pizza.
9)Pizza begins with the letter "Q"
10)Deep fried Pizza is called "awesome Pizza"

Maybe (4, Insightful)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446632)

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

Re:Maybe (-1, Troll)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446702)

Oh hi misogyny, how are you today?

Re:Maybe (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447076)

How is that misogyny?

His observation meets my experience perfectly, with two prior girlfriends, my current wife, even my sister.

It even makes sense from a biological standpoint; men, usually larger (and with greater muscle mass) than women, require more calories.

Misogyny exists, and should be fought against... but no need to try and find it where it doesn't exist.

Re:Maybe (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447356)

Maybe she likes her some pizza.

Re:Maybe (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447086)

I am 6ft tall. My fiance is 4ft 9in and about half my weight. If I ate as little as she did, I would starve. If she ate as much as I did, she would pop. There is nothing misogynistic about it, women are on average smaller than men, they will eat less.

Re:Maybe (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447100)

Maybe they're anorexic, you insensitive clod!

>.>

Re:Maybe (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447170)

WTF - the fact that women not only generally eat less but are generally more concerned about their weights, that makes me a woman-hater? Are you for real? I have a question for you, are there really boys who actually put up with your anti-male victimhood BS tactics? Every woman I've ever gone out with in any kind of context at all has not only voluntarily eaten less but been happy to do so.

TFA doesn't answer any 'perfect way' (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446644)

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.

An important factor (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446672)

The concentration and distribution of the toppings. Without these, their solution is incomplete.

Re:An important factor (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447054)

Why do I hear Comic Book Guy in my head when I read this?

Re:An important factor (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447158)

Your tinfoil hat has been rooted.

FroSt Pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446680)

With a chainsaw (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446684)

Or a Katana.

Bite the bullet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446704)

...and order ANOTHER pizza if someone's that worried about getting an "equal" share!!

Tricks from insiders (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446742)

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.

Boffins (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446786)

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.

Re:Boffins (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447000)

If that is, in fact, what the word means, I don't see your issue with the way he used it.

Re:Boffins (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447456)

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.

Yet another job interview question (1)

nervouscat (597962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446888)

I can just see it now. Some pinhead manager is going to read about this and come to the conclusion that this pizza problem would make a great job interview question to weed out software engineer candidates.

The fairest method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30446918)

One person cuts, the second person gets to choose...

At least that is the way my momma taught me :)

The trick is (1)

lunax (235701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446936)

To cut the pizza into 42 pieces.

11 (4, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446956)

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.

Interesting false assumption (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 4 years ago | (#30446964)

"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)

Pizza Analogy Guy? (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447024)

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?

Re:Pizza Analogy Guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447516)

I think his head asploded.

Square pieces are the best way to share! (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447098)

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 eat. The smaller pieces also mean that no one has to cut a slice in half just because they only want a little bit more.

Sadly, very few pizza places will do this. Our favorite that still does this is Marion's pizza in Dayton, Ohio.

Re:Square pieces are the best way to share! (1)

VaxRat (585448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447326)

Donato's does square pieces too. Marion's rocks though.

Multidimensional Pizza (3, Funny)

Otto (17870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447272)

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?

Re:Multidimensional Pizza (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447482)

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.

Even-slice pizza cutter (2, Informative)

RawJoe (712281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447432)

I've seen something like this [freepatentsonline.com] used at the Costco cafe. Seems to work easier than doing math.

"Sharing a pizza"? (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447510)

Your words confuse me greatly.

Just order another pizza (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447526)

Then nobody has to argue and everybody overeats.

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