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How do you know calculators get the right answers?

Hi, my name is Dr. Michael Winter from Brock University, and I’ll be answering the question “How do you know calculators get the right answer?”

This question actually can have a short and a long answer. The short answer actually is: You don't know for sure. You are trusting engineers and scientists that they have built something that works correctly.

The long answer would start explaining how to handle hard/software correctness formally. There are methods which allow you to specify the intended behavior of software and to mathematically prove that your implementation satisfies that specification. This is a whole research area in Computer Science called Formal Methods.

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