Saturday 6 May sees regrettable and unprecedented overlap of two landmark gatherings in the enthusiast’s calendar.
The Boring Conference, an annual conference devoted to the ordinary, the mundane and the everyday – and now in its seventh year – goes head to head this year with the Annual General Meeting of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain.
The shock clash, according to Boring Conference founder and organiser James Ward, was the result of a ‘simple schoolboy error’.
James Ward said: “Ironically the error occurred when I was putting my collection of 2,384 train journey receipts in chronological order. This is something that I have been meaning to do for some time, but most of my weekends have been occupied updating catalogues for my collections of string, sellotape and UHT milk cartons. Anyway, I accidentally dropped the receipt from March 13th 1998 on my Amstrad keyboard and pressed the return key as I sought to retrieve it, ‘setting in train’, if you’ll forgive the pun, a series of events that have resulted in this scheduling fiasco. I send my sincere apologies to the LCGB organising committee and wish them well in these difficult circumstances.”
He added: “One marquee enthusiast event is one thing, but having two on the same day is quite another. Well, actually, not exactly ‘quite another’. Instead it means having two events on the same day that might cause disappointment to people who had hoped to be able to attend both. Obviously, mine is an inclusive conference and I welcome attendees from the LCGB community, but at the same time I don’t wish to be seen to be poaching a rival event’s audience. I’m sure that their gift bags will be just as good as mine.”
Talks at this year’s Boring Conference at Conway Hall include:
Mid 20th century Danish public information films; Model villages; Bleach; How to fold each broadsheet in a confined space in order to do the crossword; Music and knitting patterns co-authored by microbes; An on-stage ironing demonstration.
Previous Boring conferences have covered topics as diverse as ‘the sounds of vending machines’, ‘a taxonomy of sneezes’, ‘hot air dryers’ and ‘East German pedestrian signals’.
James Ward added: “I’m very excited about this year’s line up and I just hope that the clash will not cause any difficulty. Obviously I’m not expecting any funny business, but anyone travelling by train to attend the Boring Conference might think about choosing an alternative mode of transport in case there are, shall we say, conversations with the higher ups in the Locomotive sector that lead to travel delays.”
Doors open at 10am for a 10.30 start on Saturday 6 May. Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. A single queuing node will be in operation. Single queuing nodes are usually described using Kendall’s notation in the form A/S/C where A describes the time between arrivals to the queue, S the size of jobs and C the number of servers at the node. Many theorems in queuing theory can be proved by reducing queues to mathematical systems known as Markov chains, first described by Andrey Markov in his 1906 paper.
Agner Krarup Erlang, a Danish engineer who worked for the Copenhagen Telephone Exchange, published the first paper on what would now be called queuing theory in 1909. He modelled the number of telephone calls arriving at an exchange by a Poisson process and solved the M/D/1 queue in 1917 and M/D/k queuing model in 1920. In Kendall’s notation:
M stands for Markov or ‘memoryless’ and means arrivals occur according to a Poisson process D stands for deterministic and means jobs arriving at the queue require a fixed amount of service k describes the number of servers at the queuing node (k = 1, 2,…). If there are more jobs at the node than there are servers then jobs will queue and wait for service The M/M/1 queue is a simple model where a single server serves jobs that arrive according to a Poisson process and have exponentially distributed service requirements. In an M/G/1 queue the G stands for general and indicates an arbitrary probability distribution. The M/G/1 model was solved by Felix Pollaczek in 1930, a solution later recast in probabilistic terms by Aleksandr Khinchin and now known as the Pollaczek–Khinchine formula.