by Dutch Editorial Board contributor,
Michelle van de Glind,
16 years old

Santa Claus has a hard time every year in December. Delivering twenty presents in one night is not a piece of cake. Especially not for such an old man! What is the fastest way to deliver all those presents without Santa Claus being exhausted? He has to last longer than only this year. Clara Stegehuis, a Dutch mathematician, did research about the quickest route to provide twenty towns in the Netherlands with presents. At the beginning of Santa Claus’ route he starts with twenty options.

Santa Claus has nineteen options left after delivering the first present. After delivering the first two presents there are only eighteen options left, and so on. This gives you the following formula: 20 x 19 x 18 x 17 x 16 x 15 x 14 x 13 x 12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1. The answer is that there are 2.432.902.008.176.640.000 possible roads that Santa Claus can go. But which one of them takes the least amount of time? This problem is called the travelling salesperson problem. It is not an easy task to calculate every single route because every option has its pros and cons. And it will take too much time when Santa Claus has to deliver all the presents by himself.

An efficient solution is for example to ask his elves for help. Santa Claus can send an elf to every destination at the same time. This way, within a few hours, every household can enjoy Christmas with lots of presents.

When his elves refuse to bring the presents, another possibility is that Santa Claus can bring the presents by helicopter. An helicopter is by far the fastest vehicle because in the air there is no such thing as traffic. Every town has meadows or roofs where Santa Claus can land. This is a fun, quick and efficient way to deliver the presents in one night.

But if Santa Claus is afraid of heights, it is not a good idea to let him fly in a helicopter. Santa Claus may be an old man but he can still take advantage of the modern technology. He can use new inventions like drones to deliver presents without too much effort. If Santa Claus buys twenty drones every drone can be used to deliver a present to their exact location. Santa Claus can also buy one drone to deliver all the presents one by one, when he can’t afford to buy twenty drones.

In a nutshell, the best and most efficient methods to provide all the twenty towns with presents are sending at least twenty elves, using a helicopter and using drones. The cheapest method is to send his elves. When Santa Claus wants to have fun he can choose for the helicopter. Or he will buy drones when his only purpose is delivering the presents in the least amount of time. All of them are great options. This article is written to give Santa Claus some advice, hopefully he finds it helpful.