Putting Math to Work Estimating WWII Tank ProductionNovember 18th, 2010
During World War II, it was important for the allies to be able to estimate German tank production. The Germans made this task easier by using a simple range of serial numbers that began with “1” and were incremented by one for each new tank. Thus the allies could read the numbers off captured/destroyed tanks and use statistics to estimate the total number of tanks produced. After the war, when the production records were available to the allies, they found that the predicted number was nearly identical to the actual value, and that the estimate from traditional intelligence sources was off by a factor of five.