Category Archives: Interesting

Testing Pi day, which is more accurate?

In the US, today is Pi day.  March 14, or as we write it with numbers 3.14.  Happy Pi day everyone!

However, in Europe, they tend to write out dates starting with the day, then the month.  So, today is 14.3 over there.  No-where near Pi.  Instead, the closest to Pi day in Europe would be 22/7 (July 22nd), where 22/7 is a common approximation of Pi.

Which is more accurate?

Testing both approximations is pretty easy with Wolfram Alpha. The error in the approximation is determined by taking the absolute value of the difference between Pi and the approximation. So, the following screen shows the result, asking if the error in the US version is greater than the European version of Pi day:

Comparing the US version of Pi day (3.14) to the European version (22/7) with Wolfram Alpha

Comparing the US version of Pi day (3.14) to the European version (22/7) with Wolfram Alpha

Europe wins this time. 22/7 is a better approximation than 3.14.

Interesting Testing Facts: The ShellShock bug is actually 25 years old

In September 2014, the ShellShock vulnerability was discovered and announced to the world. This vulnerability could allow an attacker to execute any command on a Unix-based system that uses the Bash command shell. Soon after this vulnerability was announced, hackers made millions of penetration attempts per day, with some apparent success.

New vulnerabilities are found everyday. What makes this one interesting is that the underlying bug, which is exploited in the attack, has existed in Bash since version 1.03, which was released in September 1989. Yes, this was waiting 25 years to be found.




Interesting Testing Facts: A bug beat Garry Kasparov in Chess

Deep Blue vs. Kasparov chess matches

Deep Blue vs. Kasparov chess matches

In 1997, Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue competed in a chess match, where Deep Blue won the match. This was a rematch from 1996, Kasparov won the first match, and IBM went off to improve the chess-playing ability of Deep Blue.

In the first game of the 1997 match, on move 44, Deep Blue made a counter-intuitive move, which Kasparov didn’t understand. He thought the machine had finally developed superior intelligence and would out-play him.  Afterwards, the IBM team concluded that move was really a bug in the program.

Big Blue went on to win the match, perhaps because Kasparov’s confidence was shaken by the buggy software?


Interesting Testing Facts: Mark Zuckerberg alone caused a 38% increase in average pay in San Mateo

When summarizing test results, we often use the median or a percentile, instead of the average, to represent the data set. The median, where 50% of the samples are below and 50% are above, is used because its not affected by a few outlier measurements.

A great example of averages getting skewed happened in 2013, where the average pay for a tech worker in San Mateo county soared by 38% in that year.  The cause of this increase? Mark Zuckerberg cashed in $3.3 Billion of his Facebook stock. With Zuckerberg’s pay, the average was $290K, without his pay it was $210K. His pay alone increased the average by $80K, or 38%.

Another reason to be wary of averages.

“Mark Zuckerberg at the 37th G8 Summit in Deauville 018 v1” by Guillaume Paumier – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –