[LMB] Old Moldy OT:

Scott Raun sraun at fireopal.org
Fri May 5 21:11:47 BST 2006

On Fri, May 05, 2006 at 01:03:45PM -0700, J Selin wrote:
> A common complaint with recent finance geeks (= anyone who got his
> degree in past 10 years or so) is that they have so back-of-envelope
> sense.  They can use excel to calculate something to the nth degree,
> but can't provide a reliable quick estimate.

My, that's amusing.  It's been a complaint in the science and
engineering fields for _years_!

Let's see - I was working for the professional engineering firm in the
early 90's.  My boss must have been with the firm for about 15-20
years at that point.  _Her_ boss occasionally told a 'never trust the
computer unreservedly' story at her expense.  They did a lot of water
related stuff - when she first started, she was doing a flood study.
Good old 'what happens if this dam breaks?' type stuff.  She fed all
the relevant parameters into the standard Army Corps of Engineers
flood model, ran it, printed out the results, and gave them to him.

He read through them quickly, handed them back to her, and said 'fix
it'.  She hadn't sanity checked her results - it's just not possible
for the flood stage a half-mile downstream to be 20' higher than the
water level behind the dam when it broke.

Scott Raun
sraun at fireopal.org

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