The Tenby Ten

A friend from work today pointed me to, a site designed to surface 100 identically-sized pictures every hour (displayed in a ten by ten rectangle) that best summarise the news of that hour, each with a short news snippet available on clicking the picture. (On first reading the url, I thought it might be a site dedicated to ten wrongly tried people from South Wales.)

His proposal to me was to develop an algorithm that could use the relative traffic of the pictures to determine their relative size, and to display them similarly as a continuous rectangle, complete with edges smoth as a jigsaw.

It’s a conundrum that I’ve often thought about, sparked by puzzles popular with children and indeed the Krypton Factor, where you have to fit various shapes into a fixed, two-dimensional square. But those puzzles were designed for the pieces to fit neatly into the solution. The problem posed is open to the vagueries caused by pictures whose relative sizes are beyond our control. Unless you’re willing to accept some undesirable gaps, or similarly unacceptable raggedy edges, it can’t be done I’m afraid. Unless you’re very lucky with your traffic volumes.


One Response to “The Tenby Ten”

  1. Shanahan on March 4th, 2008 23:31

    I think what you’re referring to is the Bin Packing algorithm. This is an oldy but goody from my college days.

    You so should’ve done comp-sci instead of that useful mathematics crap.

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