A person whom I met recently said something that I consider a bit odd. During our conversation, the topic of lost items arose. "Personally," he said, "I'm glad that over all the years I have not lost a thing that is ninesigma worthy." Not knowing what he meant, I could only nod in assent and quickly change the subject.

Can anyone tell me what the phrase, "ninesigma worthy," means, and why a person might express himself in that manner?

  • Does it have anything to do with the NineSigma company (www.ninesigma.com), perhaps something they and their philosophy deem worthy? – KWinker May 6 '16 at 4:26
  • NineSigma is all I could come up with, too, Googling, but I think it's more that this person is into science & math, so it probably is some sort of statistical reference. – Arleta May 6 '16 at 4:38
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    Nine Sigma is supposed to be a new standard to replace Six Sigma, which is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. Nine Sigma still hasn't really gone past the concept stage and Google won't have it. You'll need to search for both 'Six Sigma and Nine Sigma' together to get some relative hits. – Tucker May 6 '16 at 4:49
  • I just read about sigma levels here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma#Sigma_levels – kenn May 6 '16 at 12:09
  • If you heard him correctly, he was speaking meaningless buzzwordspeak. – Hot Licks May 6 '16 at 12:24

3 sigma is a statistical term for an event that is 99.7% likely to fit the data, i.e. only a 0.3% chance that it is random, and so generally assumed to be correct.

There was (is?) a business fashion called 6sigma where you were supposed to excel to such an extent that you were correct 99.99966% of the time, i.e. an error 3 parts per million.

9 sigma would be correct 99.99999999999999% (can't be bothered to calculate) so implies a very rare event.

So if the person is a management consultant / marketing type they mean that it is wonderful and high quality. If they are an engineer it might mean worthy of meaningless buzzword/fad made up by management consultants and marketing types!

  • By the way, nine sigmas is a probability of about 0.999999999999999999887, which is your value with 99887… on the end. – Patrick Stevens May 6 '16 at 11:50
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    I still cannot figure out what "a thing that is ninesigma worthy" is supposed to be. Sounds like meaningless buzzwording at its finest to me. – JimmyB May 6 '16 at 12:02
  • I agree. Someone's corrupting. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 6 '16 at 12:13

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