In November 2009, Vauxhall Motors commissioned me to write a report on some of the mathematics of parking. The full report, The Geometry of Perfect Parking, can be found here (from 11 December 2009). It was a great opportunity to describe how 'school' mathematics can be used to understand a question that lots of people might ask, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing the report.
If you are reading this page because you are interested in what mathematics can do, excellent sites to look at are http://www.mathscareers.org.uk/ for school and undergraduate level mathematics, and http://www.ams.org/public-awareness for articles for the general reader describing current mathematics research.
If you are looking for someone to talk to about parking, I'll have to disappoint you! My research interests lie in various areas of pure and applicable mathematics, including cryptography, communication theory and various areas of pure mathematics. Have a look at my research interests page for more details (including some books for a general audience on the areas I'm interested in). Many of my papers and preprints are available online, from this page .
You might have seen some recent coverage on the BBC TV programme The One Show of a parking formula very similar to the one in my report, as part of their Maths for Life week. The formula was produced by Rebecca Hoyle, from the University of Surrey. Like me, she is interested in parking as a way of illustrating the power of simple maths to solve problems: her research interests lie in pattern formation, non-linear dynamics and systems biology, not parking. Have a look at her home page if you are interested in finding out more about her research.
My model assumes that you want to finish exactly flush with the kerb when you park. Jerome White has looked at the situation when this requirement is relaxed: you just want to end up within a specified distance of the kerb (but still parallel to it). You can see what he's done here.
Department of Mathematics
Royal Holloway, University of London
11 December 2009; 22 November 2010