Traveling Salesman and Other Math Stories

Lately while exercising on a treadmill I have taken up the habit of listening to podcasts. This week I listened to a podcast from Princeton University’s Lunch & Learn series on the traveling salesman problem (TSP). One of the things I find most interesting about this math problem, is that it was first formulated as a math problem only in the early 1900’s. The problem can be stated as taking a list of cities and the distances between them. The object is to find the shortest possible path that visits each city exactly once and ends with a return to the first city.

Naturally we have several books in the library on this problem. I am going to wait for the movie. Yep, staring four fictional mathematicians, the TSP has been made into a scifi movie. You can watch the official trailer on YouTube!

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