2020年3月16日 星期一

Why Do We Never Pick the Fast Line? 排隊有學問

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2020/03/17 第453期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份直接訂閱

Why Do We Never Pick the Fast Line? 排隊有學問
by Brian Foden



  Why is it that we always seem to pick the slowest line in a supermarket or store? Basically, the reason is simple: the odds are against us. To explain, imagine that you are in a store where there are three lines. __1__ If there are more lines, your chances of getting into the speediest queue are even less.
  Interestingly, some people have come up with theories and formulas to calculate this kind of thing. __2__ A pioneering queuing theorist was a Danish engineer named Agner Krarup Erlang. He wanted to figure out the best number of telephone operators to have at the Copenhagen telephone exchange in the early 1900s. Taking into consideration the average number of phone calls in an hour and the average call length, Erlang came up with equations to determine the optimum number of operators that should be on duty at any given time. __3__ On top of that, his work established the basis for queuing theory, which became a new branch of mathematics.
  The theories first devised by Erlang are still used today in a variety of commercial settings, including call centers and traffic engineering. __4__ While there are many options available regarding lining up, it appears that a serpentine approach—where people stand in a single line and wait for the next available clerk—is the most efficient. __5__ Research shows that this option is about three times faster than using separate lines, which is the approach that is most commonly used but not that efficient for anyone in a rush.
(A) This is the method that most banks use.
(B) People who do this type of research are generally known as queuing theorists.
(C) You only have a one-in-three chance of picking the quickest line, so most likely you’ll be wrong.
(D) Businesses know just the tricks for distracting their customers from the long lines they’re waiting in.
(E) His formula was soon accepted by telephone companies in many countries, including the British Post Office.
(F) The research he conducted even helps modern businesses determine the human resources they need to commit to providing services in a satisfactory way to the public.


operator n. 接線生;操作員
a telephone exchange  電話局,總機室
equation n. 方程式,等式
serpentine a. 曲折的,蜿蜒的

1. 第一題空格應選 (C)
a. 本空格在測試對段落語意連貫性的掌握,答題線索為空格前的 you are in a store where there are three lines。
b. 空格前一句提到你在一家排了三列結帳隊伍的店裡,而選項 (C) 表示,你選中最快那一列的機會只有三分之一,所以你極有可能會選錯,語意連貫,且選項中的 one-in-three chance(三分之一機率)與前一句的 three lines(三列隊伍)相互呼應,可知答案應選 (C)。

2. 第二題空格應選 (B)
a. 本空格在測試對段落語意發展的掌握。空格前一句提到有人提出了理論和公式來計算排隊這類的事,而空格後一句則舉了一名排隊理論學家作為例子,由此推測,空格內應是將提出理論和公式的人與「排隊理論學家」這個名稱做連結。
b. 選項 (B) 表示,從事這種研究的人一般被稱為排隊理論學家,符合推測且語意連貫,故選之。
a. queue vi. 排隊(等候)(本文為現在分詞作形容詞用)& n.(為等候而排的)隊,行列
• Cars queued up at gas stations to fill up on gas after oil prices fell.
• The kids stood in a queue for about one hour for a roller-coaster ride.
b. theorist n. 理論家

3. 第三題空格應選 (E)
a. 本空格在測試對段落語意發展的掌握。空格前一句提及爾藍想出的方程式,空格後一句則以 “On top of that, ...”(除此之外,……)開頭,進一步補充他這些方程式為排隊理論奠定基礎,由此推測,空格內應與爾藍發明出方程式的後續發展及帶來的影響有關。
b. 選項 (E) 表示,他的公式很快就被許多國家的電話公司採用,包含英國郵政總局,符合推測且語意連貫,可知答案應選 (E)。
formula n. 公式
• The mathematical formula was named after that great mathematician.
*mathematician n. 數學家

4. 第四題空格應選 (F)
a. 本空格在測試對段落語意發展的掌握。空格前一句提及最初由爾藍想出的這些理論至今仍應用於許多的商務情境,可推測空格內應更進一步指出其理論在商務應用上的例子。
b. 選項 (F) 表示,他從事的研究甚至還幫助現代企業決定所需的人力資源,以保證能提供滿足大眾的服務,語意連貫且符合推測,可知答案應選 (F)。
a. conduct vt. 進行(研究、調查等)
• Scientists are still conducting research on global warming.
b. human resources  人力資源;人事部(常縮寫為 HR)
c. commit to N/V-ing  保證/承諾會……
commit vi. 做出保證
• The city government has committed to building one million new homes in a year.
d. satisfactory a. 令人滿意的
• Ted decided to take the test again because the result was far from satisfactory.

5. 第五題空格應選 (A)
a. 本空格在測試對段落語意連貫性的掌握,答題線索為空格前的 people stand in a single line and wait for the next available clerk,以及空格後的 this option is about three times faster than using separate lines。
b. 選項 (A) 表示,這是多數銀行使用的方法,語意連貫,且與前後句所描述更快速的蛇行排隊法相互呼應,可知答案應選 (A)。

1. calculate vt. 計算
• We need to calculate how much time the assignment will take before working on it.

2. pioneering a. 先驅的,開創性的
• This hospital is renowned for its pioneering work on cancer treatment.

3. optimum a. 最優的,最適宜的(僅用於名詞前)
• When living in a small apartment, you need to know how to make the optimum use of the available space.

4. devise vt. 想出,發明;設計
• The government should devise a system to solve the city’s deteriorating infrastructure.

5. setting n. 環境,背景
• That photo collection features my daughter in various settings.

6. option n. 選擇
• With a higher academic degree, you will have more job options than those without one.

7. approach n. 方法,方式(常與介詞 to 並用)
• This teaching approach is designed to help students who have difficulty reading.
• There was an apparent flaw in their approach to the mission.

8. separate a. 分開的,不同的
• Ten separate tribes inhabit the small island off the coast.

1. the odds are against sb  某人成功的機會/可能性很小
• In that country, the odds are against high school graduates who want to go to college.
• To find a job in this multinational corporation, the odds are against those who don’t speak English.
*multinational a.(公司)跨國的

2. take into consideration sth / take sth into consideration
= take into account sth / take sth into account
• When planning our trip, we should take into consideration how we will get to the sites.

3. on duty  值勤;上班
off duty  不值勤;下班
• Three lifeguards are on duty at the pool at all times.

4. at any given time  在任何時間,不論何時
• Air traffic control is responsible for thousands of lives at any given time.

5. line up  排隊
• During the exhibition, art lovers lined up for hours to admire some of van Gogh’s valuable paintings.

6. in a rush  趕時間;匆忙地
= in a hurry
• Veronica took off her high heels and ran because she was in a rush.

to explain  要解釋的話
• Symbols are not universal. To explain, though the color red stood for danger and death in this movie, in the other, it was a sign of energy and vitality.
a. to illustrate  要說明的話
• The advertising campaign had a big impact on our sales figures. To illustrate that point, the peak in sales revenue in the middle of this month is directly related to the launch of the campaign.
b. for example / instance  舉例來說,例如
• Zack is a very versatile person. For example, he plays six musical instruments.
c. in other words / that is (to say)  換句話說,也就是說
• The land is barren; in other words, nothing can grow on it.
d. to put it differently / to put it another way  換個方式說
• Liz is not in town today. To put it differently, she can’t come to your party tonight.
e. to be specific   具體來說,明確地說
= specifically adv.
• We’re facing a tough decision between two candidates for the position. To be specific, they each have their unique advantages.


  有趣的是,有些人提出了理論和公式來計算這類的事。從事這種研究的人一般被稱為排隊理論學家。名為安格那.克瑞樂普.爾藍的丹麥工程師便是排隊理論學家先驅。在 1900 年代初期,他想研究出安排在哥本哈根電話局裡接線生的最佳人數。考慮到每小時接到的平均通話數以及平均通話時間,爾藍想出了幾個方程式來決定在任何時間內同時值勤的接線生的最佳人數。他的公式很快就被許多國家的電話公司採用,包含英國郵政總局。除此之外,他的成果為排隊理論奠定了基礎,而排隊理論也成為數學的新分支。
答案:1. C 2. B 3. E 4. F 5. A





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