Guide: How to Mathematically Determine the Fastest Routes on Campus

Close your eyes.

Somewhere, out in the woods, the distant call of a songbird beckons the dawn of a new day. Set against the white plaster, gentle streams of sunlight slowly drift across the walls of your room, boldly silhouetted against half-drawn blinds. Silently, the bed frame groans under pressure, as you roll over onto the far side of the mattress, straddling the cool wall with outstretched palms. Greedily you savor a final deep breath, holding firm, only relenting when you sense the wall release alongside you. You can feel it, right? You’re in sync. All that now lies between you and the brink of fulfillment is the hesitation of the morning mist. In a sudden burst, you return to your back, reach for your phone, and pry open teary eyes to check what time it is on this perfect March morning.

It’s 8:25

It’s 8:25?

On Thursday?

Ohhh… not again, please not again.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, it happens to the best of us. You thought you were an adult, you even thought you could handle an 8:40 in Tomsich, but as it turns out you’re not, and you can’t. Too bad. Better hurry up, 15 minutes doesn’t leave you with much time. 

Needless to say, you’re definitely not gonna be able to finish that 6-page reading assigned two weeks ago. Maybe you can just skim the first and last paragraphs on the walk there? Actually, scratch that, it’s 8:48, and time is running dangerously thin. Are you sure you need to put on shoes? You can just deal with them when you get to class, at least this way you won’t have to worry about getting gravel everywhere.

Alright look, I can tell you’re getting a bit desperate. So, between just you and me, I know a few tricks on how to get across campus faster. But keep them, you know, on the low alright? We don’t need those schmucks over at “big res-life” ruining it for the rest of us.

Now, do you remember that geometry class you took sophomore year of high-school? Yeah? Good, because we’re gonna need to draw some inspiration from that. It’s important to always remember that, “the cardinal rule in effectively cutting your total walking distance is to travel in the straightest line possible”. Ok, ok, let me explain, I can see you’re not following me here. While Middle Path (depicted in figure a) might seem like the most efficient footpath, in reality, you take an unnecessarily longer time traveling on spatially redundant footpaths such as crosswalks and sideways.

fig. a

Pretty elementary stuff here right?

Below in figure b, however, we can see our example case has opted to pursue the shortest feasible distance from Lewis 116, his dorm room, to Tomsich 101, his Greek History class. Take particular note on how he commits himself to the straightest lines possible, straddling the sides of fences and walls, shoving his way past trees, and avoiding unnecessary human contact, as this would only serve to slow him down. Now this is a dedicated walker. Keep in mind, that if he truly was in a pickle, our example case could even choose to take advantage of his first story window by climbing out and jumping from it, provided he is nimble enough. This pro-move essentially bypasses the so-called “necessary formalities” that we, in our modern world, call doors, all in the interest of shaving off a few seconds. Spectacular.

fig. b

How optimized…

Let’s take a second scenario. Our good friend, “Example Case”, has only just gotten out of his Greek History class in Tomsich 101. Thankfully, he was able to get there in time, but choked at the last second, when the professor called on him to explain the take-aways from last night’s article. In fact, the professor even held him back afterwards, so they could discuss his “lackluster performance” in the class so far. Yikes, he needs this class to graduate. Well, always the trooper that he is, “Example Case” now has to get over to his 10:10 Philosophy class over at Ascension. However, after that short discussion with his professor, its now already 10:06! “Example Case” is, yet again, presented with another quagmire: “what’s the most efficient way to get to Ascension?”. Now, before we reveal to you the answer, I want you to first ask yourself, applying the same principles we’ve learned thus far, “How would I travel from Tomsich to Ascension, making sure to prioritize both speed and distance?”. Take a second, if you need it, to parse this one out in your head.

Well, think you got it? Wrong. You forgot to take notice of, as depicted in figure c, the big fuck-off building called Smather that lies in between you and Ascension. Not ideal, not ideal at all. However, instead of walking around it, potentially looking like a complete chump, you could instead opt to walk through it, saving potential seconds. This move is slightly more advanced however, as it requires both practice, as well as planning. Ideally, you will need to have your K-card pre-equipped for this one, in order to scan those card readers in one fluid motion.

fig. c


fig. d

Wow, look how straight that line is.

Of course, if you truly want to maximize the efficiency of any given path, you’re gonna need to train. For starters, I would recommend heading down to Lowry Center and starting to practice on increasing your max walking speed from anywhere around 12 to 20 kilometers per hour. For reference, my personal best, to date, clocks in at approximately 16 kilometers an hour (This means that for every 50 meters I knock off my commute, a potential minute is saved). If you’re confused as to the semantic difference between walking and running, check out these Olympic guidelines for their “Race Walking” medal, the premier international competition for speed walking.

Well that’s really the long and short of it, I mean there’s a few more advanced concepts, such as route optimization, activity hubs, and checkpoint measurement, that are designed to help you in deciding the best route for your commute, but that can wait for another time, we don’t wanna pile too much on you at once. Good luck on your travels, and always remember: there’s really no shame in just sleeping in, simply make sure to let your professor know at least 8 minutes beforehand.

Wait… I don’t remember telling you that you could open your eyes again…

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