# *Thump* *thump* *thump* .. the sound of my head hitting my desk

• I just had a phone conference with a client to go over some unfinished items in a project. One of the items related to the client putting their stamp of approval on some calculations. Last week I had sent out a nice pdf of all the calcs that explained where all the terms originated from. This resulted in my client emailing me back and suggesting that factor of two in the numerator of a calculation was not required. I replied with a nice explanation as to why it was needed. The client still wasn't so sure it was needed.

Today in the phone conference we spent 15 minutes discussing this calculation. It took quite a bit of explanation and a couple of numerical examples to explain what was going on, but finally we had agreement, and the equation was deemed correct.

And the extremely complex equation that caused all this problem? Well it seems that while I wrote the following in my document:

```          2 * A
calc = -------
B
```

The client only understood it as:

```
A
calc = ---------
(B/2)
```

• People, especially non-technical folks, tend to see things in terms of their own specific context. If all they know is f=m*a, then presenting m=f/a won't register.

Clients don't care about technology; use small words and transpose into [i]their[/i] language.

• @snoofle said:

If all they know is f=m*a, then presenting m=f/a won't register.
Well of course not, because a could be 0!

• @OzPeter said:

Today in the phone conference we spent 15 minutes discussing this calculation. It took quite a bit of explanation and a couple of numerical examples to explain what was going on, but finally we had agreement, and the equation was deemed correct.

And the extremely complex equation that caused all this problem? Well it seems that while I wrote the following in my document:

```          2 * A
calc = -------
B
```

The client only understood it as:
```             A
calc = ---------
(B/2)
```

You could have saved yourself 15 minutes of pain by just agreeing that you'd change it to be the way they wanted.  Then adjusted the documentation, but not the code, and if they ever reverse it, pretend it was a compiler optimisation.

• @snoofle said:

People, especially non-technical folks, tend to see things in terms of their own specific context. If all they know is f=m*a, then presenting m=f/a won't register.

Clients don't care about technology; use small words and transpose into their language.

WTF does this have to do with technology? This is 8th grade math.

Call me crazy, but maybe anybody that is in a position to be verifying and approving calculations should KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY DO!!!

• @campkev said:

WTF does this have to do with technology? This is 8th grade math.

Call me crazy, but maybe anybody that is in a position to be verifying and approving calculations should KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY DO!!!

I'm inclined to agree.  I don't remember every boring university lecture or high school assignment either, but this is basic numeric "literacy" (numeracy?).  Not understanding that dividing by a fraction is equivalent to flipping it and multiplying is like not knowing the difference between their/there/they're - and then arguing about it!

• @snoofle said:

People, especially non-technical folks, tend to see things in terms of their own specific context. If all they know is f=m*a, then presenting m=f/a won't register.

I know schools are bad now; but at least within the last decade or so, I'm pretty sure they were still teaching algebra in high school!

• @Aaron said:

numeric "literacy" (numeracy?).

Yes, numeracy is the correct word.

•  And now you know what happens to the retards that spend high school making paper airplanes at the back of the class

• @DOA said:

And now you know what happens to the retards that spend high school making paper airplanes at the back of the class
Sorry for flinging those airplanes at you, but I was already finished my assignment and had nothing else to do.

• @OzPeter said:

```          2 * A
calc = -------
B
```

The client only understood it as:
```             A
calc = ---------
(B/2)
```

If this is done in integer arithmetic, these expressions are not equivalent.

In floating point, depending on the numbers you will process, you may want one of another variant to avoid overflow/underflow.

• @alegr said:

@OzPeter said:

```          2 * A
calc = -------
B
```

The client only understood it as:
```             A
calc = ---------
(B/2)
```

If this is done in integer arithmetic, these expressions are not equivalent.

In floating point, depending on the numbers you will process, you may want one of another variant to avoid overflow/underflow.

That's a bit of a stretch for the floating point one, isn't it?  Multiplying or dividing by two in FP just increments or decrements the exponent; it's only going to make a difference if you're operating right at the extremes of representability already unless I'm missing something?

• @operagost said:

@snoofle said:

People, especially non-technical folks, tend to see things in terms of their own specific context. If all they know is f=m*a, then presenting m=f/a won't register.

I know schools are bad now; but at least within the last decade or so, I'm pretty sure they were still teaching algebra in high school!

They are, they are.  However, for some reason the majority of people out there don't get it.  I have no idea how they passed high school, but they did.  I tutor students on the side for some extra cash and you would be amazed at the stupidity that I see.  I get students anywhere from 18 to 40 years old that can't combine fractions!  It's fucking sad, but true.

• @campkev said:

WTF does this have to do with technology? This is 8th grade math.

It's fifth grade or fourth if you count the use of line segments to represent fractions and stuff.

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