A friend of mine who is an engineer asked his wife, a  non-engineer (NE), to join him and the other engineers in his office for a pizza lunch.  Upon her arrival, she apologized to the group by saying she was sorry if her presence meant less pizza for everyone.

“That’s OK,” they said.  “We already factored you into our pizza equation.”  Sure enough they had an equation for calculating the amount of pizza to order.  It was something like:

PA = Pm*ym + Pw*yw


PA = Area of pizza needed, in square inches

Pm = Average area of pizza eaten by a man, in2

ym = Number of men

Pw = Average area of pizza eaten by a woman, in2

yw = Number of women

The values Pm and Pw acknowledge, without casting aspersions at either gender, that men, on average, eat more than women.  Also, the values can be updated for the population group if continuing observational analysis warrants it. They kept track of Pm and Pw, simplified the equation and developed a table for the areas of the different sizes of pizzas, optimizing for cost, of course.

As for implementation, it is likely that at least one of the engineers in the group had already coded the equation in Fortran or in an Excel spreadsheet in order to automate this mundane task.

As engineers, we ask: What could be more logical?

(Note: A sharp-minded engineer will point out that the engineers in this example have already made a huge concession to the NE world by doing all the calculations in the English system.)