Seriously, we don’t mean to write only about math mistakes and promise to have something non-mistakey tomorrow and even Thursday. But for today, it turns out that Google Calculator is having a spot of trouble. If you type in a big calculation like 800000000000010-800000000000007 you get the expected answer of 3, but if you become all sneaky and change that to 800000000000010-800000000000008 then you get 0. The article “Google’s calculator muffs some math problems” on cnet news yesterday has other examples to play around with. Google released the statement:
We are aware that the calculator tool in Google Web search is not working properly for certain calculations, and we are looking into this problem further. We apologize for any problems that this causes our users.
which suggests that this might turn out to be more than floating point error. Maybe.
As a bonus mistake, the article above refers to Google wanting to raise $2,718,281,828 in its IP0 several years ago [those digits look familiar to anyone?] but calls it $2,718,281,828 billion instead of $2.7 billion. As one commenter points out, $2,718,281,828 billion is a lot of money.