Brazilian Time: A Mathematical Model

Mathematical models, when used effectively, are capable of describing real world phenomena and can be used to make educated predictions.  As a math major, I have encountered this topic in several classes and I hope to explore the significance of using both computer and physical models in the energy industry.

With all these interesting thoughts on math modeling, it occurred to me that this sort of predictive tool could be applied to cultural situations as well.  After collecting a large set of data from various work functions, travel itineraries, and social gatherings, I have developed the BrazilianTimePredictor Model(!!!!) to aid Gringos*  everywhere in their quest to not stick out like a sore thumb in Brazil.  This product will be sold in the Wofford Bookstore for the low price of $497.55, but if you call now we’ll give you a 30% discount on other models–ItalianTime and IndianTime!!!

After my semester in Mainz, Germany, I had become spoiled by the German virtue of “Pünktlichkeit”, or punctuality.  I would say Americans are fairly punctual as well.  However, Brazil has certainly changed my perception on time.  I do not mean this in a condescending manner, but simply as a cultural observation.  Fortunately, my trusty roommate Viraj Patel, had given me a sense of what “Indian Time” was like at Wofford, and thus prepared me somewhat for my foray into Brazilian culture.  I think all of the Wofford students that have done the IES Rome interim can relate as well taking ItalianTime into consideration.

So, the BrazilianTimePredictor Model(!!!!) works something like this:  Input some basic information–time of day, time in which you were invited to the event, and the time at which said event begins, as well as several other variables described below.  Because the BrazilianTimePredictor Model(!!!!) is a commercial product, I cannot divulge all of the fun and interesting mathematics behind effectively predicting the time a given event will begin, but consider the following variables:

Are you traveling to the event by yourself, or meeting a Brazilian who will then take you there?
What sort of event is this? (Scalar Coefficients with Business Events = 0 and Social Gatherings = 10)
How far away is the event? Take into consideration rush hour traffic, metro times, and bus schedules.

Using a large sample size of the data I’ve collected over the past seven weeks, I can attest to the efficacy of the model predicting event start times (and providing suggested arrival times) with pinpoint accuracy!!!!!!  Analysis of the data shows that business interactions are very punctual, whereas a social gathering like a birthday party is highly dependent upon all of the input variables, and can range anywhere from an hour to three hours after the assumed start time!

Unfortunately, the commercialization of my ambitious CulturalModelers company will be on the back-burner for the rest of my time in South America.  The good news is, I will be learning some more about math modeling next week when I hit the road!  I will be visiting some of Duke Energy’s hydropower facilities, a sugarcane mill, and then hitting the road to Rio to meet researchers involved in modeling concepts and a wind turbine manufacturer.  Busy times down here, and I hope everyone is doing well.

Wofford > Furman.


P.S. Brian, I’m lovin’ the blog post–going global!

*I use the term Gringo in the Brazilian Portuguese sense, and hence the term should not be taken with offense.  The power of words between cultures and languages is an interesting topic that I would like to explore in further posts…