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Dealing with seasonal telephone calls

Please note that this post is extremely frivolous.

Just before Christmas 2018, Nav, one of the few other operational research scientists in Devon, posted in Facebook that he had spent over five hours in a telephone call.  It was about his research, but I commented, tongue in cheek, that such a long wait on the telephone at that time of year meant that Santa Claus needed more elves to be call handlers.  Nav replied that this was clearly an O.R. problem, determining the staffing of a call centre.  Could this blog examine the problem? he asked.

The literature on call centres is extensive; much of it starts from queue theory models.  The literature on Santa Claus is extensive as well, and there is a recent mathematical monograph which has some related material.  "The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus" is subtitled "The Mathematics of Christmas".  (Fry, H and Evans, T.O., 2016, ISBN 978-1-784-16274-0)  However, there is no discussion of how Santa Claus's call ce…

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