Here is some news that is a sobering reminder that we should not assume technology is i: Fox News is reporting that Microsoft Excel 2007 is marred by a serious multiplication bug. In a September 25 Excel group blog post, Microsoft employee David Gainer reported that when computer users tried to get Excel 2007 to multiply some pairs of numbers and the result was 65,535, Excel would incorrectly display 100,000 as the answer. Gainer said Excel makes mistakes multiplying 77.1 by 850, 10.2 by 6,425 and 20.4 by 3,212.5, but the program appears to be able to handle 16,383.75 times 4.
At this time, Microsoft is working to resolve the issue, but a patch for the “technical difficulty” has not yet been issued. In the meantime, all of our students working on their linear regression projects should double check their data in Excel! :-) For those of you who are more mathematically gifted than me, check out this interesting analysis of the problem.