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!

August 22, 2011 at 15:53 |

[…] Alison Kiddle's NRICH blog Thoughts about maths, education, and working for NRICH « The Pizza survey – part 1 […]

August 29, 2011 at 07:54 |

[…] figure out if mathematicians like pizza. She has started analysing the results as you can see in part 1 and part 2 . During the survey Allison (ajk_44) concluded that most of the people answering the […]