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John W. Verity

Roughly Speaking: When Speed Trumps Accuracy

John W. Verity
Boost
Boost
10/27/2012 7:07:35 PM
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Re: Good enough is good to go
I suppose this is what the standard deviation is all about and how good is good enough.

@ JohnVerity re: "People spend a lot of time worrying, "Hey, did I earn my bonus? Was I at 103% of the target, or 97%?" That worrying takes a lot of energy. Those conversations take a lot of time"  I've encountered this a few times in my life, but I had to ask the question, "Do I want to do a really good job or do I want to get paid? or   Employers have performance measures that have to be met and if the numbers don't fit, then a poor performance review was on the horizon.

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JohnVerity
JohnVerity
10/27/2012 5:54:06 PM
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Re: Good enough is good to go
The term to keep in mind is "eventually consistent." The issue is not only about significant digits in numbers, it's about databases that can resolve queries pretty well but extremely fast. And it's about foregoing absolute accuracy in data for the sake of generally good knowledge. And it's about working with data differently. As the Sloan School article puts it, "We need a whole new philosophy around leadership, decision making and performance management. People spend a lot of time worrying, "Hey, did I earn my bonus? Was I at 103% of the target, or 97%?" That worrying takes a lot of energy. Those conversations take a lot of time."

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JohnVerity
JohnVerity
10/24/2012 11:08:27 PM
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Re: Good enough is good to go
The real challenge, I suppose, is to know how much accuracy is enough.

I imagine this issue of rough accuracy will be fairly relevant to the SQL vs. NoSQL discussion, and to the Brewer Theorem we have been discussing here lately. Sometimes, a database will be completely up to date, and sometimes not. And in some situations, a slightly out of date database is just fine. Eventually, it will get update and all be well, but until then, the answers it provides are, or may be, good enough. Amazon is a good example; its product database is constantly being updated, but that doesn't stop people making use of it continually and getting lots of information from it. If one item of info is wrong, so what? 

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JohnVerity
JohnVerity
10/24/2012 9:59:19 AM
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Re: Good enough is good to go
It's true, there is an obsession with digits. I see it in children just learning arithmetic, too. I suppose it's partly the calculator's fault. Growing up without such a device meant that the only way to over-indulge in digits was to do calculations by hand,and that is self-limiting. 

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toby
toby
10/24/2012 9:53:25 AM
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Good enough is good to go
 

@John, I have always felt this obession with digits was a case of the Emperor's clothes. Indicative answers are good for 95% of situations. the only time I want accuracy is in my Tax filing :)_

 

 

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SaneIT
SaneIT
10/24/2012 7:48:07 AM
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The degree of accruacy
Well if you have an acceptable level of accuracy defined and it means cutting your decision making time from weeks to hours then it could mean the difference between being an industry leader vs a follower then it makes sense.  If you're right 95% of the time and you're able to beat your competitors to the punch as well as do it more often I can see where a company would trade that for  99% accuracy.

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