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Tech Pub Quiz #3

Behold! The questions (and answers!) to our 3rd edition of the Cord Tech Pub Quiz. Our largest turn out so far, we had four teams duking it out for the crown.

Round 1: Name that Nerd!

pub-quiz-3-1-93aaa1.png Included in this pic are assorted techies. Our Round 1 question was to try to name them all!

Round 2: CS Lore

  1. Harvard is famous for its Intro to Computer Science course. What’s the 4-character course identifier?
  2. Founded in 1947, this professional organization is the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society. Originally called Eastern Association for Computing Machinery, by what initials-only name is it commonly known today?
  3. Long before “crypto” had anything to do with blockchains or NFTs, it was shorthand for this word — the science of secrets.
  4. The ancient astronomer and mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi gave us many things — including one of the most common words used in all of computer science. What common CS word is derived from the name Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi?
  5. These days, the prefix “cyber” means whatever you want it to mean. But it’s actually a shortening of an older concept which referred to decision making systems based circular causal feedback. What concept does the prefix “cyber-” originate from?
  6. There exists a noteworthy and very inefficient sorting algorithm based on the idea of randomly permuting a list and then checking to see if it’s sorted. What is the name of this algorithm?
  7. 2pts — Computer science as an academic discipline is less than 100 years old. What year was the first computer science diploma offered? What university offered it?
  8. Originally published in 1985, what computer science text book is sometimes referred to as “The Wizard Book” due to its cover, which includes a wizard casting a spell?
  9. In 1968, this international organization held the first ever Software Engineering Conference. What’s the name of the organization?
  10. What famous computer science text book author is known for sending out actual, cashable checks to anyone who can find errors in his work?

Round 3: Operating Systems

  1. When a program has exhausted all the available RAM in its parent OS, it will crash with an “OOM” error. What does OOM stand for?
  2. This bit of footwear-inspired code loads the main operating system into memory on system start.
  3. The term “segfault” refers to a type of crash where a program attempts to access what type of resource that it doesn’t have permission to access?
  4. The name Unix is a pun, riffing on the name of a predecessor operating system. What was the name of the earlier OS?
  5. Now discontinued, there once existed a variant of Unix developed at UC Berkeley that went commonly by what three letter initialism?
  6. Before MS-DOS, there was QDOS. What did QDOS stand for?
  7. Often looked at as the worst ever release of the Windows operating system, what is the name of Microsoft’s biggest flop which was released publicly in 2007?
  8. Many operating systems support a special kind of interprocess communication where data flows directly from one process to another without touching the filesystem. What is this operating system feature called?
  9. Many operating systems feature a file to which any data you write is immediately discarded. What’s the name of this file?
  10. In Linux, if you want a process to run even after the terminal is closed, you can start the process using the utility nohup what does nohup stand for?

Round 4: Nerd Math!

  1. How many bits are in a nibble?
  2. How many bytes are in a mebibyte?
  3. Assuming 1GB/s SSD, which is faster — reading a 4k block randomly from your SSD or reading 1MB sequentially from RAM?
  4. 2pts: Which is bigger: Big Omega or Big-O?
  5. Without using a calculator or Google, what is 2^23 ?
  6. In 2021, NASDAQ’s computer systems couldn’t handle the price of Berkshire/Hathaway because of their unsigned integer representation — The share price was £413,200.0000. What size of uint were they using?
  7. Most nerds know that the number 86400 means something special with respect to a single day. What’s number has the same relationship with a week?
  8. What is 0o45 (Octal) + 0x61 (Hex) in binary?
  9. In JavaScript, what do you get if you add an empty object {} to an empty array [] (with the plus arithmetic operator)?
  10. What is the Hamming distance between the 8-bit unsigned integers 170 and 85?

Sudden Death Round!

Category: Unicode

Question: What is the character code for the digit 9?


Round 1

  1. Grace Hopper
  2. Bill Joy
  3. Steve Wozniak
  4. Parag Agrawal
  5. Ellen Pao
  6. Joel Spolsky
  7. Richard Hamming
  8. Elizabeth Holmes
  9. Sergey Brin
  10. Zero Cool – no other answer is acceptable

Round 2

  1. CS50
  2. ACM
  3. cryptography
  4. algorithm (via Greek alogrisms)
  5. Cybernetics
  6. Bogosort
  7. 1953, Cambridge
  8. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  9. NATO
  10. Donald Knuth

Round 3

  1. Out of Memory
  2. Bootloader
  3. RAM / Memory
  4. Multics
  5. BSD
  6. Quick-and-Dirty Operating System
  7. Windows Vista
  8. pipes
  9. /dev/null (though $NULL is acceptable for Windows programmers)
  10. no hangups

Round 4

  1. 4
  2. 1,048,576
  3. 4k from the SSD (150ns) vs. 1MB from RAM (250ms)
  4. Big-O is the worst case performance (Big Omega is best case)
  5. 8388608
  6. 32-bit
  7. 604800
  8. 10000110
  9. 0
  10. 8

Sudden Death

Answer: 57 in ASCII / U+0039 in Unicode – either is acceptable

Jackson Gabbard


Feb 18th, 2022

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