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Have you ever noticed that real-life situations rarely conform to maths learned at school and university? So here I am, Christmas morning, and instructed to do something useful. So I get the task of rolling lengths of bacon round dates, each one forming a cylinder length 4 cm and diameter 2.5 cms. I am told to put them all into a baking dish which is elliptical, a=10cm, b=6cm (half-major axes) and get as many as possible in, on their sides. So the mathematical task is to fit rectangles 4 x 2.5 into that ellipse, and get the maximum number in. There of course is the inevitable "discussion" that a different way of arranging them would fit more in, but I claim there is no analytical way of doing it. Any idea what the maximum number is?

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If you got 18 I would be impressed - if you got 19 in you were cheating and squeezing them in.


I very much doubt it is NP complete; it does not smell as if it would reduce to the other NP-C problems. And even if it were it would not necessarily be solvable in exponential time (if all NP-C needed exponential time then P would definintely not equal NP and I would claim my million pounds).


I reckon 13 or 14 ish... Whilst the rest of the family dozes off the vast amount of food I prepared earlier we are a pigs in blankets rather than devils on horseback sort of family :) - I might do a bit of modeling to see if I can get past a dozen

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Bacon and dates? Is this a thing?


I stress that I was only following orders, and if there is one thing I've learned in life, that is that you don't question the cook on Christmas Day morning, especially when she's holding a rather large knife. In fact, these things come roasted together with the turkey, and are delicious, adding flavour to the turkey meat which can be a bit bland.


Anyway, I fitted 15 into the bowl, which led to disapproval because it meant that it was impossible to divide them equally. But I survived.


(Edit: Well, I could have shot one guest or invited another, giving us 5 or 3 each, but that seems a little drastic.)

we are a pigs in blankets rather than devils on horseback sort of family :) - I might do a bit of modeling to see if I can get past a dozen


You are quite right, I've just been informed that they are devils on horseback. There is just one left out of the 15 - that's all I'll need today.

Edited by DrKrettin
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How does one mathematically model the squashyness of bacon wrapped dates.


There must be a special branch of maths - Squashiness Theory. Although I managed to fit 15 into the bowl, some kind of squashiness was involved, but no brute force.

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