Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Order and Disorder in Pastry Displays

Perhaps strange dreams beget strange ideas, and here's my idea for the day.

I was at Green's Cafe today, and I noticed that the ordering of the pastries in their display case differs from day to day. And this makes me ask: Is it better strategically to do this (perhaps so people think there is more variety than there actually is?) or is it better to go with regularity and put everything --- when it's in stock --- in basically the same place every day. Also, it might be interesting to come up with a mathematical model of this. Do any of you have any thoughts on whether order or disorder is better in this situation? (Also, I'm guessing that the model would have a phase transition between a region in which the pastries should be ordered and one in which disorder ought to be favorable.)

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