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The Best Strategy for Finding a Parking Spot

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Parking lot parking spot
Parking lot
Photo: Rachmaninoff

Finding a parking spot can be a daily struggle, especially for people who work in busy areas. To learn how to spend the least amount of time searching for a spot, physicists employed mathematics and discovered the most successful parking behavior.


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What the math uncovered about parking spots

Physicists Sidney Redner of the Santa Fe Institute and Paul Krapivsky of Boston University worked together to try to solve the tasking problem of finding a parking spot. They wrote a paper about the mathematics they used in the “Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment.”

The paper, “Simple Parking Strategies,” details that there are three main parking behavior types that people utilize. The meek behavior entails people choosing the very first open spot they find.

The optimistic behavior is when someone drives as near as they can to their destination and then attempts to find an open spot as they work backwards. Finally, the prudent behavior involves a person parking as close to the destination as possible in the first available space they see.

For the study, the best parking strategy is the one that wastes the least amount of time in the parking lot. When combining average walking time with average driving time, it was determined that the prudent strategy is the best. The optimistic strategy is a close second, while the meek strategy clearly falls behind the other two.

The math itself is difficult to explain, but you can check out the following video for a quick summary of the paper.


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Hopefully, the paper will help you shorten your time in parking lots so that you can have more time at your destinations.

News Source: Jalopnik