questionswhat's wrong with this google calculator result?


I don't even see an option to change between metric and standard...hmm...


Maybe Google expects you to want that conversion if you input those parameters (miles +gallons)? I would assume (and could be wrong) most people would just input the numbers and not the units unless they wanted Google to convert the units? That's the only way I can wrap my head around it.


I guess that bit was coded by someone in a metric area and they never bothered to localize it.


Google is defaulting to conversion calculation because you included units. If you want it unconverted, there is no need to use the units: 100/5 = 20. You already know what 20 means.

It will do the same for other measurements where you include the units. For example, if you enter 100 ft / 8 sec, the answer is converted to 3.81 m / s. If you want it to remain in ft/sec there is no need to enter units - 100/8 = 12.5.


it also works if you specify "in mpg" or "to mpg" at the end. It kinda makes sense for google to default to metric... technically the US has adopted metric.... ish.


@90mcg112: Then, if you would enter 30.48m / 8sec, it should calculate and convert into imperial units, but it doesn't.


@90mcg112: We get this but the question or issue is when you're given imperial, you don't convert it and answer in metric. Why Google's calculator does it is odd.


@first2summit: Because Google assumes a conversion is needed since that's the most common request. Quirky yes, but understandable

j5 j5

@j5: Assuming that it's the common may not be accurate nor is it wise - assuming.
Besides, who in their right mind answers metric when asked with Imperial standard or any other standard. It's a bug in the code and would get sent back in any application development.


Given the however-many-billion searches per day Google processes, they pretty much have to go by statistical probabilities. They also have a pretty good data set of what people are trying to find, based off of what search results get clicked on or cause the user to not keep trying. And even so, they do try to cover all the bases.


@first2summit: What @codex said.
Also, firkins are damn expensive these days.
Thanks OBAMA

j5 j5

You can specify "20 miles / 5 gallons in miles per gallon" or get really creative and try "20 miles / 5 gallons in light years per acre-foot"


@codex: Regardless, you don't convert to another standard unless requested. It's a bug.

How helpful is it when you ask someone a question and they answer in another language or standard. The answer is right but not at all helpful.

@j5 - you're wrong and I don't know why you're digging your heels in on this.


@first2summit: I was just going to post about Google and statistics, then @codex did, so I just QFT.
Is that "digging heels"? OK, if you say so, though I think it's more "shrugging shoulders". :D

j5 j5

Typically when you are to multiply or divide two quantities, the units follow the same operations. For example, if the question is to simplify "9.8 meters per second / 1 second" you would unequivocally get "9.8 m / s / s" or "9.8 m/s^2". In no universe should the question, as asked, be answered in feet per minute squared, smoots per firkin squared, or anything other than the provided units - unless specifically asked otherwise.

I understand that I can fix this by removing the units, or adding "= mpg" or "in mpg" or "in miles per gallon" at the end of my query, but my original question was to point out the unexpectedness of the unhelpful-yet-technically-correct answer that Google gave.


Think of it this way:

Imagine I went up to 1000 random people and said simply "100 miles divided by 5 gallons equals?" Assuming that people would get past the randomness of the question, I think a large percentage of people would give me my desired answer. I think exactly zero (well, maybe more if my sample includes some of the more smart-alecy participants on this thread) would give me the answer in kilometers per liter.

Bad Google.


On the other hand, if you go up to people on the street and ask how many rupees in 100 US dollars, you will be greeted with blank stares. Good Google.

You're expecting Google to be just a calculator, it isn't. It's a calculator and a units/currency/language converter and a search engine, and a shopping portal, and an image aggregator, etc., etc. etc.


@sirlouie: If 432 billion people go to Google and ask for unit conversion between imperial and metric, Google will assume that's what people want and behave likewise.
Is it what you wanted? no
Is it logical? no
Is it statistically correct behavior? probably

It's a curiosity indeed, but if the behavior disturbs people that much, they can certainly file a bug report.

j5 j5

@90mcg112: you underestimate the Indian population where I am, of which I am one. :)

Counterpoint: Google is a calculator. When I enter 100 / 5 I don't get my answer in kilometers per liter.

My gripe is that the syntax processor, while usually surprisingly accurate, messes up so drastically (and unnecessarily) on a question that a high school student would likely get correctly. I certainly will file a bug report.


@j5: What you say makes sense if I ask for a conversion between imperial and metric. But my query makes no mention of metric at all. That's where the incredulity enters.

Furthermore, if I enter 100 kilometers / 5 liters, guess what answer I get? Here's a hint: it doesn't convert it to imperial. It gives me the answer I would expect: 20 kilometers per liter. Therefore, I do not think it unreasonable of me to point out the difference.

It might make sense to suggest the conversion as a secondary answer when no conversion was requested, but to make it the primary answer is simply incorrect.


@sirlouie: In that case, you have indeed discovered a bug. Good dig.

j5 j5

@sirlouie: he he - "Bad Google" made me think of this.


XKCD had an interesting article on MPG actual units:
Gas mileage is measured in square meters.