## redundancy in the lavatory

I recently used a restroom that had a stall that made you feel like you were hunkered down in a bomb shelter. Why? There were eight rolls of toilet paper. Now, I’ve seen plenty of bathrooms that have 2 rolls, which makes perfect sense. The janitorial staff can replace one if it’s empty when they check it at night, but the kind souls using the bathroom during the day don’t need to worry about running out midway through their business. That’s just good planning.

But eight rolls? Who in the world needs that many rolls? I had a hard time picking which one to use.

It also complicates the toilet paper algorithm. I was surprised to learn that Don Knuth, author of The Art of Computer Programming and creator of TeX wrote a whole essay on algorithms for choosing toilet paper that was published in American Mathematical Monthly. I could only read the first page of Knuth’s article without having to pay for it, but it had already become too mathy. My vote is for the 1st Don’s (Don Normal) treatment of the subject.

In light of their algorithms, I think it’s safe to say that with 8 rolls of toilet paper even a random algorithm would suffice unless the usage became morbidly frequent.