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HOME > PAST ISSUE > May-June 2005 > Article Detail

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Zipping Along

To the Editors:

One topic not touched upon by Brian Hayes's article, "Naming Names" (January-February) was the zip code system. In the U.S., a zip code has just five digits, so the maximum number of codes for some 300 million people is 99,999, or roughly one code for every 3000 people. (Editor's note: Only about 42,000 of the possible codes are in use.) The use of the four additional figures in the zip + 4 system vastly increases the permutations and yields three codes per US resident but makes a rather unwieldy nine-digit code. In Canada, we use a six-way combination of letters and numbers. My post code is T4R 1T2. The maximum number of combinations is therefore 17,576,000, or just over one code for every two Canadians. Thus a portion of a street or even each office building has its own distinct postal code. Since the North Pole is apparently in Canada, Canada Post has given Santa Claus the code H0H 0H0.

Grant L. Nielsen
Red Deer, Alberta

 


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