Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Unit Fail in the Evening Standard

From an article by Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard today:

It is very difficult to believe that the capitalist system has been seriously improved by the arrival of computers able to trade in a microsecond and to exploit movements in share prices visible for just that amount of time.
It is even harder to believe that it will be improved further when the next generation of technology — including that of the stock exchange itself — will increase the available buying and selling speeds to milliseconds — millionths of a second.
Do they even employ any copy editors any more? And why would you pay this guy to comment on this sort of thing?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What is the most commonly Mispelt word on the internet?

I've wondered about this before, and finally got around to doing some research last night. For a measure of how often a word is mispelled on the internet, let's use this: the ratio of the number of times the correct spelling appears to the number of times the misspelling appears. I'm not quite sure what to do if there is more than one common way in which a given word is misspelt - probably take the ratio of the correct spelling to the sum of the incorrect spellings.

Anyway, here's my first few attempts:
definitely: definately - 96,900,000: 13,500,000 = 7.18:1
separate: seperate - 172,000,000: 12,200,000 = 14.10:1
accommodation: accomodation 98,400,000: 12,600,000: 7.81:1
So, after my first few tries, the old perennial "definately" seemed to be doing well.

The two people I've discussed this with both suggested having a look at the number of hits for "teh" vs "the", which I did the ratios are:
the: teh - 11,910,000,000: 23,000,000 = 517.8:1
The most interesting thing about this fact is that "the" appears in more than 12 *billion" webpages. That means that there is now almost certainly more than two webpages in the google index for every person on Earth. The fact that "the" is so common makes it nearly impossible for the typos to overwhelm the people getting it right.

Anyway, the best I've been able to do so far is the following:
Gauge: guage - 33,100,000: 11,200,000 = 2.96:1
I got pretty excited by the number of hits for the word "miniscule", but it appears that the consensus is that that's an acceptable spelling these days, so you don't get points for that (I'm not quite sure what rules I'm using on what makes a spelling count as "acceptable", but I'm sure there are some). 

Anyone beat 2.96? 

EDIT (16/9)
As Adrianna points out, I had managed to fail to misspell two of the words in my original post - now corrected. She also suggests "occurring", as a candidate, which is a new clear winner:
Occurring: occuring/ocurring = 49,900,000:22,300,000+22,100,000 = 1.12:1
Notice that either of these individual misspellings would already have been winning on its own. Note also that for some reason this word is much more commonly misspelled than either "occurred" or "occurrence".
So - new challenge - can anyone get a ratio below 1?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Monty Hall, Monty Hell and Tuesday's Boy

Consider the following problem (which I've quoted from the wikipedia page):
Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?
 Well. Is it?