Monday, July 7, 2008

Chili Cook Off: How to Deal with Imperfect Information

So I spent my Fourth of July at the Palo Alto chili cook off. I arrived about an hour into the chili eating. So here is how the tasting worked there were 22 chili stands each staffed by a local community organization that had prepared their own version of chili. For $5 I purchased a tasting packet, which included 5 tickets. Each ticket could be exchanged for one serving (a few ounces) of chili. So I could sample 5 of the 22 booths. Additionally the lines for the booths varied greatly from getting served in a minute to 15 minutes. So the question arises which booth should I choose?

I could assume that no one knows anything about the booths and go to the shortest line. But the cook off had been going on for about 1 hour so I assume some information about the best chili had been passed. So perhaps the longest lines have the best chili. However, I don’t like to wait in line. But waiting in line is more enjoyable if you are currently eating chili.

So solution. Assume other people have similar taste to you in terms of chili and get one less preferred chilli from a short line, while venturing into a longer line.
Further experimentation proved that beer and chili are complements.

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