I am applying for a patent on a method to allocate transportation resources (e.g. trucks) among loads. Central to the patent is a (very simple) mathematical formula, into which I plug some variables (a+b=Z) to get a useful value Z.
Is my formula a method? Can it be used as a part of an embodiment? Can it be listed along with materials and methods, e.g. "A computer and a program on the computer and a method within the program performing operation a+b=Z"?
Sometimes I will use an additional variable c (a+b+c=Z) for the computation. Is this a separate embodiment? Is it a ramification?
Sometimes a and b are measured in units of distance, and sometimes in units of time, and sometimes in units of money. In each case there are conversions into a common unit before the computation is made. For example, I could have a minutes and b miles and c dollars, and a conversion of $2/minute and $3/mile, convert a and b into dollars by multiplying, and add them all to get Z in dollars. Is this an embodiment? Do I list my conversion factors as materials, like widgets?
I suppose my question is, "Given that a simple algebraic formula is vital to my invention, and given that the equation may appear with different terms or different units, what is the most logical way to describe this to the patent examiner?"