A department store in the United Kingdom by the name of Debenhams issued a challenge to the University of Sheffield math students to devise a mathematical algorithm to determine the optimum number of ornaments, tinsel, and lights in relation to the size of the tree, as well as the perfect size of the star for the top of the tree. Members of the University's SUMS Math group were able to come up with a set of equations that described precisely what the challenge required:
|Courtesy of http://www.shef.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.227830!/image/formulaslarge.jpg|
It's probably a stretch to think that this set of equations will make it into widespread use, as decorating for the holidays is way more about spending time with friends and family and having good times, rather than looking for mathematical precision in a Christmas tradition. However, it's a fun exercise to show young math students that demonstrates yet another useful and unexpected use of math in everyday life.
Happy Holidays to all of my followers, and all the best in the New Year!