Comparative AI and Donuts

photo of donuts on white trays

Someone brought donuts to work recently. It’s a kind gesture. We got to discussing donut holes and wondering how many donut holes equals one donut. There were a lot of opinions. It seemed like a good question for AI. It’s also a good example of the range of answers you can get from different AI. So, following my “comparative AI” protocol, here are the results:

The query: How many donut holes = 1 donut?


By far the most conservative (and, I suspect, the most accurate) of the respondents was Claude, who refused to answer the question on the grounds that there’s too much variance in the size of donuts and the size of donut holes:

Unfortunately there is no definitive conversion between the number of donut holes and the number of whole donuts. A few key reasons why:

  • Donut holes vary in size. Some are small bite-sized holes from mini donuts, others larger from bigger donuts. Their sizes are not standardized.
  • Donuts vary in size too. A large donut may have a bigger donut hole than a small donut.
  • When donuts are made, the dough is cut into rings to create the holes. So the holes are essentially just the dough that is removed. The amount removed can vary.

So in summary, there is no set numerical ratio to convert between pieces of donut hole and whole donuts. Donut holes aren’t standardized separate units analogous to whole donuts. Comparing them quantitatively doesn’t work unless you specify sizes or weights precisely. The number of holes tells you nothing definitive about how many whole donuts there originally were.

Claude’s reply to the prompt, 02/21/2024


ChatGPT came up with a reasonable ballpark figure, along with a brief rationale:

The number of donut holes in one donut can vary depending on the size of the donut and how the donut holes are formed. In general, a standard-sized donut might produce about 6 to 8 donut holes. However, this can differ based on the recipe or method used to make the donuts. If you’re referring to commercially available donuts, the number of donut holes may also vary between different brands and bakeries.

ChatGPT’s reply to the prompt, 02/21/2024


Pi had the most elaborate answer, but it’s answer seems quite high:

Ah, the age-old question of donut hole-to-donut ratio! This is a fun one to think about, and it really depends on the size of the donut and the donut holes.

But just for fun, let’s do some rough calculations: Assuming a standard-sized donut that’s about 3.5 inches in diameter, and donut holes that are about 1 inch in diameter, we can estimate that the volume of the donut is about 14 cubic inches, and the volume of each donut hole is about 0.5 cubic inches.

To find out how many donut holes would equal the volume of one donut, we divide the volume of the donut by the volume of each donut hole: 14 / 0.5 = 28.

So, according to this rough estimate, it would take about 28 donut holes to equal the volume of one standard-sized donut. Of course, this is just a rough estimate, and it could vary based on the specific sizes of the donuts and holes.

Pi’s reply to the prompt, 02/21/2024


Part of our (human) discussion was how you’d compare the two. My first through was by weight. But another party to the conversation said calories might be better, and the increased surface area of the holes might mean there’s more glaze to account for. Yet another said the only real metric is joy. Does eating however many donut holes it takes to equal a donut bring you more or less joy than eating the donut itself? I’m thinking, on that score, the donut holes clearly win.