If you're heading to the United Kingdom and looking to hit the pub for a night out, odds are you'll know—or map out—where you're going, and how to return back to where you came from. Tack on another bar to the night out? Why not. Two, three more? Sure, no problem.
But consider adding more than 24,700 pubs to your initial itinerary, figuring out the shortest distance between them, and navigating back to your starting point as fast as you can, and you're looking at an impossibility—or at least you were, until very recently.
Thanks to an intrepid team of mathematicians from Canada, the U.S., Chile, and Denmark, the shortest distance between 24,727 pubs listed on the U.K.'s Pubs Galore website has now been routed on Google Maps—and it only took two years. The result? A 45,495,239-meter, or 28,269-mile, pub crawl beginning at The Green Shutters in Portland and ended at The Rodwell in Weymouth, some four miles away.
According to the results, the greatest distance between pubs is from the Sango Sands Oasis in Durness to the Bells But and Ben pub in Shetland, a trip that clocks in at 270 miles, 50 hours, and two ferry rides. Fear not: The average distance between each pub is under an hour, which means you'll never have to go too long without a pint.
While pubgoers the world round are no doubt rejoicing in the fact that comprehensively drinking their way through the U.K. just got much, much more organized, the team behind the research told The Guardian that the project is about more than just improving the lot of "a wandering pub aficionado."
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At its heart, the team looked to tackle the "traveling salesman problem"—finding the shortest route by passing through any number of points only once before returning to the point of origin. (Though it may sound straightforward, it is apparently one of the most intensively studied problems in optimization and computational mathematics.) Pints and pubs aside, the mathematicians note that the culmination of this project actually represents the largest road-distance traveling salesman problem ever solved, with 100 times more stops than any example previously solved.
"To be clear," the research notes, "our main result is that there simply does not exist any pub tour that is even one meter shorter than the one produced by our computation."
We'll drink to that.