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acme (189)

acme
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http://www.astray.com/

Leon Brocard (aka acme) is an orange-loving Perl eurohacker with many varied contributions to the Perl community, including the GraphViz module on the CPAN. YAPC::Europe was all his fault. He is still looking for a Perl Monger group he can start which begins with the letter 'D'.

Journal of acme (189)

Thursday March 29, 2007
02:01 AM

Google doesn't know a billion

[ #32828 ]

A billion is one million million in most of the world, but one thousand million in the USA.

On Google.com a search for 1 billion / 1 million gives "one thousand". On Google.co.uk a search for 1 billion / 1 million also gives "one thousand", which is wrong. Bad Google, no cookie!

Edit: I wasn't awake, ignore

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  • The UK usage of a billion is pretty much obsolete, even in the UK. I think Google is just reflecting reality here.
  • The battle was lost long ago.

    Since 1974 the British government has used "billion" to mean 10^9 in all official statistics. And common usage seems to follow this.

    Of course, it may be different in France...
    • That's terrible!
      • It could be worse. In the U.S., it's terribel.

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I've seen books written within the last decade avoid using a "billion" because it's meaning is ambiguous. Some people think of it as a thousand million (milliard) and some as it's more correct million million.

      Most people don't know what they mean, a few mean a billion and a few mean a milliard. Therefore you can't 100% sure what's going on, so I also avoid the word...

      --
      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
      • I've seen books written within the last decade avoid using a "billion" because it's meaning is ambiguous. Some people think of it as a thousand million (milliard) and some as it's more correct million million.

        "Thousand million" is not more correct than "million million." They are different conventions, neither with any more basis than the other, except in the number of people who have one meaning than the other.

        However, "it's" is, in fact, less correct in this context than "its." :-)

    • Or in Germany.

  • Adaptable language, innit? We've nicked the mercan meaning, like.

    Forsooth, the lingo yousa reaching for is "trillion".

    Sayeth Google:

    one million * one million = one trillion
  • Drat, I wrote this in the morning just after getting out of bed. The post doesn't mean what I thought it meant: ooops, sorry. Ignore this one!
  • I know I found it strange. I didn't know or did not remember a billion could be anything but 10^9. Brazil (unlike Portugal) also adopt this meaning (see Bilhão [wikipedia.org]).

  • ... because most people have no idea what a million or a billion (or a milliard) look like anyway. If you're actually dealing with those quantities, then you'll be working with 1,000,000,000 or 1e9 and not words.