What’s washing dishes got to do with math? The answer is in this week’s Math Goggles. Oh, and you get a chance to get your home cleaner and mathy-er. If you are new to Math Goggles and not sure what to do and why do it, check out this page first.
Ever since my dishwasher broke, I’ve been washing a whole lot of dishes. Doing dishes by hand is not especially complicated and leaves plenty of time for thinking about math and other things. But don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about counting dishes, estimating the per-plate cost of detergent or calculating the volume of water in the sink given the rate of inflow and outflow. What I was thinking about was one of the games in our upcoming book, the game we call Silly Robot. Particularly, I imagined creating an algorithm for a robot to wash my dishes.
My algorithm started with the robot checking whether there were any dishes in the sink. If no, it’d stand by or, ideally, switch to a different chore. If yes, then it would turn water on. Then it would soap up the scrubby and pick up the first dirty plate. Scrub, rinse, check, put on a drying rack. Repeat until the sink is empty.
Are those the smallest steps that my dish-washing algorithm can be broken into? Of course, not. Next time I do a sink-full of dishes, I’ll work on refining it. Besides, I might be able to re-use parts of this dish washing algorithm for another one of my “I wish I had a robot that would do this for me” dreams – doing laundry.
In the mean time, I invite you to join me. Think of a household task you do a lot and wouldn’t mind giving it to a robot. Next time you do it, pretend you are creating an algorithm for it. So what’s your robot going to help you with?