Some disasters attributable to bad numerical computing

Have you been paying attention in your numerical analysis or scientific computation courses? If not, it could be a costly mistake. Here are some real life examples of what can happen when numerical algorithms are not correctly applied.

The Patriot Missile failure, in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, on February 25, 1991 which resulted in 28 deaths, is ultimately attributable to poor handling of rounding errors.

The explosion of the Ariane 5 rocket just after lift-off on its maiden voyage off French Guiana, on June 4, 1996, was ultimately the consequence of a simple overflow.

The sinking of the Sleipner A offshore platform in Gandsfjorden near Stavanger, Norway, on August 23, 1991, resulted in a loss of nearly one billion dollars. It was found to be the result of inaccurate finite element analysis.

Last modified August 26, 1998 by Douglas N. Arnold,