Archive for August, 2011

The Pizza survey – part 2

August 22, 2011

Here is the first instalment of the eagerly awaited results to the pizza survey. Go and read part 1 for the context.

As of this afternoon, there were 504 respondents. I removed one duplicate and one nonsense response, and have done my best to interpret everything else.

In answer to the question “Are you a mathematician?” there were 217 unambiguous “yes” answers (either yes or Y), and 225 unambiguous “no” responses. In addition, there were 7 responses along the lines of “yes ish” or “yes but”, 42 responses that I interpret as being positive, and 11 responses I interpret as being negative. In the next paragraph, I will outline my interpretation process for these.

I was rather generous in assigning people to the group “mathematician” rather than “non-mathematician”, so I gave people the benefit of the doubt. Anyone responding “Depends how you define mathematician” was definitely enough of a mathmo by my standards. I accepted physicists and computer scientists as long as they showed some desire to be counted, for example those who said “I’m a physicist – is that close enough” counted as a yes, but the respondent who said “No, I’m better than that, I’m a physicist” was counted as a no. All those who said they were studying to become a mathematician were included in the positive responses.

Of the 225 unambiguous “no” respondents to the mathematician question, 11 also answered “no” to the pizza question, and 185 answered yes. The other responses will have to wait until I have time for more detailed analysis. Of the 217 unambiguous “yes” respondents to the mathematician question, 12 answered “no” to the pizza question, and 185 answered “yes”. So my preliminary findings are that no matter how many respondents you have, 185 will always be unambiguously in favour of pizza. Alternatively, it seems that I have found that for those who follow me on Twitter or who follow someone who is likely to retweet a silly twitter experiment that I made, whether they are mathematicians or not makes very little difference to their pizza loving.

If there is enough demand for it, I’ll sift through the rest of the spreadsheet and analyse some more. And if you ask very nicely, I might post some graphs too!

The Pizza survey – part 1

August 20, 2011

This is the first part of the story of the pizza survey I set up the other day. I don’t know a great deal about conducting studies, but I know that things like aims and methodology should come before the results, so part 1 will be about those sorts of issues, and then I’ll blog some results later this weekend.

Wednesday was an odd day at work. Tuesday night I’d driven up to Scunthorpe after work to watch Scunthorpe United lose (the intention was to see them win but these things don’t always work out as planned), and I’d got back quite late. So on Wednesday I was a little daydreamy as I worked my way through some fairly routine tasks on my to-do list. I paused for lunch as usual, and went up to the cafeteria to buy something. They had the new pizzas they’ve started doing; they used to do pizza-type things that were actually a half-baguette with toppings on, but now they have actual thick pizza base with peperoni, bacon, mushrooms and other delights. (More on toppings in the results blog later.) I idly wondered whether mathematical output of the building would improve with the improved standard of pizza, and then realised that I was extrapolating from my own experiences of mathematicians as pizza-lovers and assuming that all mathematicians were like my friends and me. Thus the survey was born.

I thought long and hard about the questions. Obviously I had to ascertain whether people were mathematicians and whether they liked pizza. Some people found my choice of free text boxes rather than yes/no buttons an odd one – this was quite deliberate. I expected most people would be happy to type in “yes” or “no” (and indeed, I can now do some interesting analysis about the proportion who capitalised, chose just to use Y/N, added emphasis such as “f*** yeah!” …) but I suspected that some would want to tell me a little more. I decided before the survey went live that anyone typing “It depends how you define mathematician” is probably enough of a mathmo to be counted in the yes camp.

Ultimately of course, it would be nice to see whether the pizza-loving is more prevalent among mathematicians or non-mathematicians, but as my data collection relied on Twitter, and as my Twitter followers are mostly maths or maths-ed people, I suspect that my results will consist so overwhelmingly of mathematicians that it will be difficult to make any significant conclusions.

Peter Rowlett has preserved some of the Twitter conversation from Wednesday afternoon on his excellent blog. Come back later this weekend for the first results from the survey. There may be pie charts!