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Wait Time at the Registration Line

by Shiva on November 10th, 2014

Many would have noticed the long lines of OR folks lining up to pick up their name tags this Sunday morning. There were multiple queues partitioned based on first letter of the registered name. The last two lines were for H-P, and Q-Z. The latter got sub-divided near the counter into Q-S and T-Z, and I suppose the other lines were similarly bifurcated near the counter. The lengths of the lines did not appear to be dramatically different from each other, give or take. If we have N queues, we would create letter bins so that roughly 100/N % of names show up in each line. has this piece of statistic that gives us the % distribution of first letter of last names in the US based on 2000 census data:

A-G ~ 33%

H-P ~ 38%

Q-Z ~ 29%

Of course, the INFORMS annual conference is likely to be attended by folks from all over the world, so this data may be a bit skewed toward the US. Furthermore, the distribution can change over time. The Q-Z line was actually a bit longer than the H-P line at one point in time.  However, the INFORMS alphabet partition seems to be pretty reasonable: roughly 1/3 of the names are likely to go into each of the 3 main lines.

Next, we see from the same site that Q-S ~15%, T-Z ~ 14%, so the subdivision seems to be pretty reasonable too.


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