At the Grad School we have one of those fancy printers that are bigger than my Honda Civic. It can do copy, printing, scanning, fax, staples, you name it. Recently I tried to print a one page handout that I needed for class, so I selected 20 copies, pressed print, and proceeded to pack my things to go to class. On the way out the door I stopped by the printer.
To my surprise, there was a stack of copies a mile high. I mean way more than the 20 copies that I printed. I also noticed that they were aligned in little stacks as many printers do to separate successive jobs. Then I noticed that it was still printing my 20 page print job. I quickly got on the front panel and by sheer luck, I was able to cancel the print jobs. Yes, jobs. There were several under my name.
So, I went to class and decided to check it out later. A few days later I figured out what happens. When you print multiple copies, you get that many copies *and* that same many number of jobs. So, if you print n copies you get n*n (n squared) number of copies. Nasty. The job of 20 pages had printed close to 400 pages!
So, now to print a number of copies, I have to solve the following mathematical problem.
Find a set of integers so that sum of their squares equals the number of copies required.
Needless to say, I now print one copy and photocopy the extra ones.
Posted on 10/18/2008