# Mathematics in Pizzeria

In a pizzeria, as everywhere else in the market place, the ability to count change and evaluate tips proves a handy skill. In a pizzeria, due to the nature of their main product, basic geometric knowledge is also an asset.

Say, in a near-by outfit, they currently offer one large pizza for the combined price of one small and one medium product of identical quality and design. Which should one choose? You of course remember the formula for the area of the circle, pr^{2}, where p is the famous universal constant and r is the radius of the circle. If only you could measure their radii you would naturally choose the variant that provides more of the area, since the heights of the pizzas are identical and, therefore, irrelevant.

Unfortunately, you left the measuring tape at home, none is available in the pizzeria, and the only thing the tapping and searching of your pockets has produced is a protractor. Where did it come from? How did it get into the back pocket of your pants? You've no idea. But this is the only tool you have. It'll have to do. So, which one do you choose? Large or a combination of small + medium?

What if applet does not run? |

|Activities| |Contact| |Front page| |Contents| |Geometry|

Copyright © 1996-2018 Alexander Bogomolny

### Mathematics in Pizzeria

An ingenious approach to that quandary is described in *777 Mathematical Conversation Starters* by John dePillis, p. 250.

Ask the staff in the pizzeria to cut each of the three products in half. (The assumption here is that, since they know how to cut a pizza into 8 slices, they must be able to cut it into just two.) This yields three straight line segments -- the diameters of the pizzas. Make a triangle out of the three segments and use the protractor to measure its angles. If the triangle is acute, the combination

In the latter case, an additional factor may tip the balance of your judgement. Do you like crust? In which case do you get more of it? With one large pizza or with a combination of small + medium of equal area?

Assume the radii of the pizzas are (in common notations) r_{L}, r_{M}, and r_{S}. From the equality of the areas,

r_{L}^{2} = r_{S}^{2} + r_{M}^{2} ≤ (r_{S} + r_{M})^{2},

so that, if the areas are equal, the circumferences are not: that of the larger pizza is shorter than the combined circumference of the small and medium:

r_{L} ≤ r_{S} + r_{M},

with the equality only when the small pizza is really too small. (You must recall the formula 2pr for the circumference.)

In any event, a partial answer to the problem is that under certain circumstances a combination small + medium is preferred to one large pizza.

Now, let's consider a different problem. What matters now is to really get more pizza for your buck, i.e., per (your) buck. Assume the areas of the pizzas are A_{L}, A_{M}, A_{S}, while the price is P_{L}, P_{M}, and P_{S}, respectively. "Pizza per buck" is measured by the ratio A/P of the area to the price. If A_{L}/P_{L} = A_{M}/P_{M} = A_{S}/P_{S}, we may proceed directly to the next important question, but if the "pizza per buck" ratio differs with the size, we may legitimately think of making a purchase that optimizes that ratio. Here is then a question: is it possible that a combination of two pizzas of different sizes optimizes the ratio A/P?

### References

- J. dePillis,
*777 Mathematical Conversation Starters*, MAA, 2002

|Activities| |Contact| |Front page| |Contents| |Geometry|

Copyright © 1996-2018 Alexander Bogomolny

### Is it possible that a combination of two pizzas of different sizes optimizes the ratio A/P?

The answer is "No." Indeed, let there be two pizzas with areas A_{1} and A_{2} priced respectively P_{1} and P_{2}, such that A_{1}/P_{1} differs from A_{2}/P_{2}. Is it possible that

(A_{1} + A_{2})/(P_{1} + P_{2}) > A_{1}/P_{1} and also (A_{1} + A_{2})/(P_{1} + P_{2}) > A_{2}/P_{2}?

We know that it is not possible. If, for example, _{1}/P_{1} < A_{2}/P_{2}

A_{1}/P_{1} < (A_{1} + A_{2})/(P_{1} + P_{2}) < A_{2}/P_{2}.

In other words, to get the best deal, determine which pizza size has the largest ratio A/P and have as much of it as you can. No combinations here.

How much pizza one can eat is a very personal question that is better left out of discussion. However, realistically, we can assume that monetary resources of a person in a regular pizza parlor are limited. This being the case, and assuming that one only buys whole pizzas, might this happen that a combination would now offer a better deal than a "pure" size selection?

This is an example of a constrained optimization problem (one may realistically run in at a pizzeria.) Given that the resources are limited, but the person is willing to spend as much as it takes, is it possible that a combination of two pizzas of different sizes optimizes the ratio A/P?

|Activities| |Contact| |Front page| |Contents| |Geometry|

Copyright © 1996-2018 Alexander Bogomolny

### Given that the resources are limited, is it possible that a combination of two pizzas of different sizes optimizes the ratio A/P?

The answer is "Yes, quite." The situation is very different from the previous question.

For simplicity assume there are just two kinds of pizza: one of area 25 in^{2} @ $4, the other 80 in^{2} @ $12. You have the amount of $20 you are willing to spend in its entirety. There are just two ways to spend $20. You may buy either five $4 pizzas or two $4 ones and one $12 pizza. In the first case, you'd get 125 in^{2} of pizza for $20, so that the A/P ratio equals ^{2} of pizza for the same $20, and A/P in this case equals

|Activities| |Contact| |Front page| |Contents| |Geometry|

Copyright © 1996-2018 Alexander Bogomolny

63716327 |