Business Analytics Blog

Business Analytics Blog

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Santa's Problem

Twas the night before Christmas, and home at the Pole, Santa was worried, he was in a hole.  To make gifts, the elves had been in their prime,   But could Santa deliver them all in time?    So many to give, so much to do,   And he really wanted to get back for the Christmas Doctor who!  The problem was how to visit all the towns   and avoid the children all awaking with frowns    His usual method through towns A to Zed would not get him there, even on his magical sled,  To get around the towns to minimise the distance, To answer the problem he’d need some assistance    But who could assist with Santa’s difficult test? Who could give him the route that was best?  Which team would not leave him in the lurch? There was only one answer – Operational Research!


But how to get around their high utilisation? Santa could use his magical time dilation!  That he used to visit world in a night, They could answer the problem, but would it be alright?    The next moment Santa assembled a team, That to work for a client, would be called a dream, To solve Santa’s problem in the time taken to blink, To answer the query they needed to think   They told Santa, the problem is rather large, (and to solve it we really should give a big charge), For if your number of towns were only 54, The number of solutions is as big as atoms in the universe – indeed more!   This answer filled Santa with lots of dismay, But then there came a voice – I know a way The voice belonged to one of the OR crew, Santa then pleaded – tell me what to do, The consultant piped up, “it seems to me, That this is a problem, known as TSP “For Salesmen who are travelling it is the solution, and I think to your dilemma, we can get resolution”   “To solve this, I think that we need a heuristic”, But this did not mean a thing to confused old Saint Nick, “If we choose to look at the humble ant and the way their colonies work, an answer we’ll grant”   “For ants to get food follow the shortest route and yet we know that ants are not that astute” “The answer is in their organisation, If we follow their method you’ll be filled with elation”   Although the answer does not give quite the best, It comes so close that it passes the test They eagerly fed the details into the model and hoped that the answer would not be all twaddle,   The answer was good, within a few percent of the maximum, and all of a sudden old Saint Nick was not glum, For better than back before Doctor Who on the screen, He would even be back, in time for the Queen!   So to you all if you want to go far, For a better solution you should contact Capgemini's OR

Merry Christmas from all of the Capgemini OR team…

About the author

Jonathan Chadwick
Jonathan Chadwick
Jon has worked for 18 years as an analytical consultant in the UK, USA and Europe for a diverse range of sectors, most recently Financial, Oil & Gas and Government. Jon has extensive experience in benefits realisation, modelling, business analytics, portfolio management and change management. Jon devised and created Figure It Out.

Connect with me

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.