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Sunday, August 08, 2004

comp.risks - Risks Digest - 2 August 2004
Cosmic ray hits Brussels election -- really?

To summarise the responses to this item, I have now been able to confirm the story [4100 votes given to candidate in local Brussels election by computer error due to cosmic ray]. It was of course actually 4096 = 2^12 votes, as correspondent Robson and I expected.

...

The event occurred in the election held on 18 May 2003. An expert review determined that as no software defects had been found on inspecting the source code and no test had been able to reproduce the error, it was probably attributable to a spontaneous inversion of a bit in the RAM of the PC (no explicit mention of cosmic rays). However the report concluded that even if the voting system under review was not perfect the totality of controls was sufficient to be confident in the overall result. I wonder.
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