Talk:2821: Path Minimization

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Judging from the angle of the arms, I do not believe that the swimmer is in distress. In fact I think the swimmer is just a future projection of Cueball, not a separate person.

I agree that the swimmer does not appear to be in distress, although the title text suggests that it is probably a separate person.
My personal interpretation is that the situation is "meeting a friend at the beach to get ice cream". Options are either a) meet the friend first and then swim back to get ice cream or b) get ice cream first and take it out to eat together in the water. 04:02, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
Or the more sensible walk to the water's edge and wait for your friend to swim in to meet you... 08:43, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
I agree as well, I changed it to "possibly in distress". Barmar (talk) 04:43, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
I changed it further. Still admits the possibility, but less possibly than "possibly" hints at. (It is, nonetheless, a (mostly!) typical "you need to get here, minimising <some form of time/distance/energy/endurance resource>, what is the optimal strategy" tbing that lifesaving courses might include to train you in such considerations. 09:01, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Technically, the path that minimizes swimming passed a nearby boat rental stand. (by the way, I didn't write the unsigned paragraph above this one) 03:05, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

When I first saw the comic, I thought cueball was suspended on a tether in the air above the water, and the ice cream stand was floating. I didn't realize it was a beach until I read this explanation. Barmar (talk) 04:41, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Me too! Instead of a tether I thought cueball was free falling into the water with a desire to get to the end state (the swimmer), and the ice cream stand was free falling as well.V-squared (talk) 01:44, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

The ice cream path reminds me of the bread-first search (similar punchline). 06:55, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Noting, in passing, that an almost "flosbury flop"-like path could have been shown, too. A gentle curve, bending to hit the shore somewhere between shortest-time and shortest-swim, that would allow maximum run-up to dive into the water at the right angle to then power straight towards the target with the original running impetus turned straight into initial swimming speed, with no sharp turns involved. (Also, an 'Aquaman' line, perhaps exactly complimentary to the land-favouring 'bent-leg' routes, minimising/reducing land in favour of water.)

Note that for Aquaman, the line minimizing land would be the fastest. He swims very fast. -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:45, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

This was one of my first edits in this wiki, so I hope I didn't do anything wrong. I think this comic clearly references Feynman's Lifeguard problem (there is an almost identical diagram in his QED book) and the Ice-cream vendor problem. I wrote a couple of paragraphs explaining this, but they were promptly deleted by the next editor. Did I do something wrong? I think the explanation is incomplete without those references. Prallax (talk) 10:08, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Seeing the history, this is probably just an edit conflict, you should insert your contribution again. Cochonou (talk) 11:54, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
It looks like it was my edit that 'overwrit' Prallax's. Though I got no "edit conflict" notification (or I'd have at least tried to reintegrate my failed changes into the revised 'current prior' version, or at least revisit the diffs to reinstate the best of what I'd caused to vanish/undo). Thinking back, it might have been due to a server time-out which meant I resubmitted, fooling the back end about what version I was (thinking I was) actually adding to/revising... I'm pretty sure it occasionally does that, and probably more than I ever know about, if I don't have reason to check the page histories in detail...
Anyway, recovered the paragraphs and re-added them to the end (maybe should have been inserted before the traditionally final title-text-paragraph?) on the original editor's behalf, as they looked fairly good and I didn't see anything in them that I might want to change (not even markup).
So both apologies and congratulations to their author! They might later get tweaked/redone, b6 others, but as far as ('one-of-my-')first-time edits go I'd have personally been proud to have done as well, whatever my first (probably disasterous) edits might actually have been, oh so many years ago and lost in the mists of anonymous-IPdom... Keep it up, and welcome to the rabble! ;) 12:45, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
Thank you for reverting and fixing this! I'm moving it before the paragraph about the title text as suggested. Prallax (talk) 21:14, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Reminds me of Betamaj (talk) 12:06, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

One of the first comments there mentions trying to reach a drowning swimmer. Barmar (talk) 14:14, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
I was going to complain about reruns, but the addition of ice-cream has sweetened the deal. ProphetZarquon (talk) 16:51, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

I don't know if I agree with the Beach Vendor paragraph. There's only one vendor, and there's no reason for an ice cream stand on a beach to be a reference to the problem. (Ice cream stands on beaches are pretty common, at least near I live.) DownGoer (talk) 12:50, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

I question the first-paragraph comment about how the paths are "indicative of the path light takes between materials with different refractive indices". That applies to only 2 of the 5 paths. BunsenH (talk) 15:48, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Arguably just the one (extremely exotic materials aside) if you don't count the straight-there path (zero difference). But it is relevent to quote how the "optimal speed route" is equivalent to a refractive-path (for similar underlying mathematics) as an analogue, which is further down. 18:20, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Noone is going to comment how hard would be to swim with one, not speaking about two, ice creams? -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:45, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Instead of the ice-cream cone, one should perhaps go for a float! ;) 21:52, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
These talk sections are worth scrolling though just to find the perfect dad joke. You, my friend, did not disappoint. Trogdor147 (talk) 01:31, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

Actually, there is no real path that maximizes time; you can always increase time by taking another detour. -- 06:36, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

In my case, every path I take is chosen to minimize the time until I get ice cream. I've got ice cream right now, so I feel like I could go anywhere! ProphetZarquon (talk) 16:58, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

I hope the swimmer beats Cueball to the Ice Cream vendor to get the last ice cream. If only there was a mathematical process to work out who would get there first? Kev (talk) 22:11, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

I suppose the angles here could be used to find the ratio of Cueball's walk speed vs swim speed? Though perhaps it ends up being a function of how long the lengths are. I've been away from math too long, I guess. -- 22:34, 30 August 2023 (UTC)

Incidence angle is 61.4° while refraction angle is 21.2°, which gives a speed ratio of 2.4 -- 14:48, 31 August 2023 (UTC)

You can pessimize time a tiny bit more by angling the path exactly 180° away from the bearing from Cueball to the guy in the ocean, assuming Cueball may only move in a straight line. 02:35, 1 September 2023 (UTC)

Is there a reference to the discredited but still believed by some "No eating before swimming" rule? By this measure "Here's an ice cream, go swimming" is monstrous in the same sense as "go play in traffic." 15:45, 1 September 2023 (UTC)

I think the arrow for the last path may be interpreted as pointing up and away from Earth. This refers to the fact that in a curved spacetime if the universe has a spherical geometry it's possible to traverse the entire universe and come back to the starting point from below. This really maximizes time (and distance) while still moving in a straight line. --Unbroken (talk) 13:13, 10 January 2024 (UTC)