This Is Mathematically The Best Way To Find A Parking Spot

There is apparently the “best” way to find a parking spot. Physicists Paul Krapivsky and Sidney Redner have determined the mathematical answer to what the best strategy is when you’re parking your car.

Typically, there are different methods people take when finding a parking spot. Finding one closest to your destination, closest to the entrance/exit to the lot, or just the first available. However, Simple Parking Strategies takes a look at the three most common parking behavior types and computes which is best. They have been named meek, prudent, and optimistic. Meek drivers take the first available spot. Optimistic drivers get as close as possible to the destination to find a spot, and then works backward until finding one. And prudent drivers get as close as they can in the first close open space found.

Pulled from the paper itself:

“We investigate simple strategies that embody the decisions that one faces when trying to park near a popular destination. Should one park far from the target (destination), where finding a spot is easy, but then be faced with a long walk, or should one attempt to look for a desirable spot close to the target, where spots may be hard to find? We study an idealized parking process on a one-dimensional geometry where the desired target is located at x  =  0, cars enter the system from the right at a rate λ and each car leaves at a unit rate. We analyze three parking strategies—meek, prudent, and optimistic—and determine which is optimal.”

And if you aren’t up for watching the whole video or reading the paper, basically, out of the three types of parking behaviors the researchers found the prudent strategy worked best, with the optimistic being second.

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