Talk:Catastrophic failure

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They're the sort of things the History Channel does when not busy with their usuall Hitler-preoccupation. 03:22, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

On second thought maybe that is one itself... "LOL"! 03:23, 28 May 2005 (UTC)


Is there really a point to this article? Mbarbier 07:21, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

I am currently editing a mechanical engineering stub about ultimate failure. Regrettably it still remains relatively small and unnoticed by fellow engineers. Although there are some differences between our articles I was wondering if you wanted to try and merge them together to try and create a stronger stub about failure. If you are interested either leave a post on the site ultimate failure or on my own personal page. Thank you for looking into the matter. Engl315ISU (talk) 05:19, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

About this term when applied to computers.[edit]

"The term catastrophic failure is occasionally (and erroneously) used in computer software to indicate an unexpected error from which the system cannot meaningfully recover."

Why "erroneously?" It's simply borrowing an expression from structural engineering. -- -- Boldupdater 17:50, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

I suppose the thinking is that you can always recover from a software error.. restart the machine. However, I agree with you.. it's a borrowing of the expression, and it's not really an error. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:30, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
An example of when recovery might not be possible would be when data has been lost as a result of the failure. The data may be critical to the business, or even to the functioning of the software. Another example might be when the software itself is broken (e.g. a failed update that left the software in a state where it can no longer execute). — JoeyTwiddle (talk) 03:14, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

Software that results in loss of life[edit]

It is my understanding that the term "catastrophic failure" has a more specific meaning when applied to computers. Here is a slide set prepared by the Intecs group, an Italian software firm that works closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Corporation for Space Standardization (ECSS) to develop software for space applications [1].

On slides 11 and 12, they distinguish between Class A software (failures of which will be "catastrophic", i.e. loss of life), Class B software (failures of which are "critical", i.e. may damage significant amounts of property but no loss of life), Class C software (failures are "major") and Class D software (failures are "marginal"). This is consistent with my own personal experience with computing... the term "catastrophic failure" is reserved for failures in which there will be loss of life.

Does that seem okay? If nobody has objections, I would like to add a little paragraph explaining that usage of the word in the computing world. Chris Clark (talk) 20:57, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

The Logic of Failure[edit]

Why is:

added to the Resources section? The failures described in that book include some "catastrophic" failures, and some other systemic failures. Also, I'm not convinced that the book is a useful reference, even for the sort of failures it does discuss. See (from the article), for reasons why it might not be a useful reference. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:03, 19 November 2010 (UTC)


Catastrophic failure is usually to restrain computers from communicating internally. Normally between programming languages and databases i.e Visual Basic and Microsoft Access. Pchiume (talk) 13:51, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Does this mean anything? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:05, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Centrifugal pumps[edit]

The section about centrifugal pumps seems unnecessarily detailed and unrelated to anything else on this page. I have parked the text below. It could maybe be merged into the article centrifugal pump, which has currently less than a sentence on this phenomenon. It says simply "These are some difficulties faced in centrifugal pumps... Overheating due to low flow." This equation was originally added to the Catastrophic failure article on 18 April 2009‎ by

Catastrophic failure in centrifugal pumps
A catastrophic failure of a centrifugal pump can occur if the liquid within the pump casing is allowed to vaporize. To prevent flashing due to overheating of the fluid, a flow must be maintained through the pump to keep the liquid below saturation temperature.
If a temperature rise of 15 °F (8 °C) is accepted in the casing—minimum flow through a centrifugal pump can be calculated as
q = PBHP / 2.95 • cp • SG (1)
  • q = minimum flow rate (gpm)
  • PBHP = power input (BHP)
  • cp = specific heat capacity (Btu/lb °F)
  • SG = specific gravity of the fluid

--Officiallyover (talk) 22:17, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Clarification: Not a catastrophe[edit]

I wonder if it might be worth adding a clarification like the following:

The adjective catastrophic in this term refers to the inability of the system to recover from the change. It does not necessarily mean that the change will result in a humanitarian catastrophe. Depending on the scenario, there could be no harm incurred as a result of the incident, aside from the cost of the damaged equipment.
So the failure is catastrophic for the system, but not necessarily catastrophic for people.

This article was actually cited as evidence that a catastrophic failure does not necessarily mean a catastrophe has occurred in the common sense of the word. I can believe that is a common misconception, which is why I suggest adding this clarification. — JoeyTwiddle (talk) 03:07, 16 February 2017 (UTC)