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Best XKCD About Software Engineering šŸ”—

This is my selection of best xkcd comics about software engineering.

Sandwich šŸ”—

Explanation: The sudo command lets authorized UNIX users override access rights by executing a command as the root user.

e to the pi times i šŸ”—

Explanation: Euler’s identity states that e^(iĻ€) + 1 = 0.

Random Number šŸ”—

Explanation: Most functions of this form are random number generators, meaning that on subsequent calls they return different random numbers.

Compiling šŸ”—

Explanation: Compiling has one computer system read through the man-written code and (barring errors) produce the equivalent stand-alone and direct machine-readable code, suitable for a given range of computers.

Exploits of a Mom šŸ”—

Explanation: As the full name is read into the school’s system’s databases without data sanitization, it causes the “Students” table in the database to be dropped, meaning it gets deleted.

Nerd Sniping šŸ”—

Explanation: People have a way of getting distracted easily and focusing on one thing and ignoring the rest, when they feel their specific skills are challenged by an interesting problem.

Travelling Salesman Problem šŸ”—

Explanation: Given a list of cities and the distances between pairs of them, the task is to find the shortest possible route that visits each city exactly once and then returns to the origin city.

Correlation šŸ”—

Explanation: For example, if you tallied the sales of sunglasses and incidence of skin cancer by region, you would probably find that there is a high positive correlation. That is, in locations where many people buy sunglasses, there are also many cases of skin cancer.

Students šŸ”—

Explanation: Students often dream they have assignments they have forgotten about that are due in a very short time period, leaving no time to complete the assignment, thus filling them with the feeling of impending failure.

Standards šŸ”—

Explanation: Technical standards exist so that industries could avoid wasting resources reinventing the wheel, whilst offering their clients a certain amount of simplicity and compatibility between vendors.

Password Strength šŸ”—

Explanation: Entropy is a measure of “uncertainty” in an outcome. A value representing how unpredictable the next character of a password is.

Language Nerd šŸ”—

Explanation: Creates new meanings from existing words:

DNA šŸ”—

Explanation: By studying the source code for a program, a person can often understand why it does what it does, and make effective and fundamental changes to the program’s operation. Looking at some obfuscated source code may make it clearer how misleading even simple looking code can be, and how unreadable correct and well working code can be.

Fixing Problems šŸ”—

Explanation: Due to the complex relationships within a program or other system, making an alteration can cause problems with other parts of the program. This can lead to a seemingly small “fix” becoming a long chain of debugging and consecutive fixes.

Logical šŸ”—

Explanation: Since he refers to all people in general and since he falls in the same trap as he complains about, using his feelings for his case instead of logic and science, his argument is both fallacious and hypocritical.

Base Rate šŸ”—

Explanation: The base rate fallacy is a type of error in which people are presented with the rate at which something occurs throughout an entire population along with more specific information about a subset of that population, and tend to ignore the whole-population information in favor of the specific information.

Garden Path Sentence šŸ”—

Explanation: A garden-path sentence is one in which the first or most obvious attempt at parsing the beginning of a sentence leads to the wrong meaning, causing confusion when the sentence is completed.

After (bird strikes)1, (judge)2, (who ordered)3 (olive garden-path sentence)4 in (case of green walkways)5 (vacated)3, (overturned but rights and lands safely.)2

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Updated on 2024 Apr 11.

DISCLAIMER: This is not professional advice. The ideas and opinions presented here are my own, not necessarily those of my employer.