Use of mathematics II

Gowers's Weblog

Today I had an experience that I have had many times before, and so, I imagine, has almost everybody (at least if they are old enough to be the kind of person who might conceivably read this blog post). I was in a queue in a chemist (=pharmacy=drugstore), and I knew that my particular item would be quick and easy to deal with. But I had to wait a while because in front of me was someone who had an item that was much more complicated and time-consuming. In this instance the complexity of the items was not due to their sizes, but a more common occurrence of the phenomenon is something that often happens to me in a local grocery: I want to buy just a pint of milk, say, and I find myself behind somebody who has a big basket of things, several of which have to be…

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