Can someone give me a brief explanation on the difference between "sound" and "robust"? I was asked to explain if "robustness" and/or "soundness" of an IT system is given. I conclude from the way the question is asked, that there must be a difference.

I guess just a few sample sentences, where the sense changes depending on what word one uses, will help me out. Context does not matter.

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  • It looks like a coin-toss in the marketing department. Offhand I'd think "sound" means that the thingummy works consistently, while "robust" suggests that it comes with a rich array of bells, whistles and doohickii. – Rob_Ster Dec 3 '17 at 15:06
  • What did the dictionary tell you? The two terms are quite different. – Drew Dec 3 '17 at 15:28
  • @Drew That is the problem, I was not able to figure it out. For every example I read or imagined, I felt like being able to substitute either term without really changing the meaning. Now reading James McLeod answer it is obvious to me that "robust" is stronger. I am not a native speaker. – Suppenteufel Dec 3 '17 at 16:03
  • Show your research: dictionary definitions and state why you cannot distinguish them. – Drew Dec 3 '17 at 16:29
  • Sound is defined as solid, stable, faultless etc. Robust means somewhat stable, firm, etc. But something that is solid, stable and faultless might be called robust, or am I wrong? And something thats robust can be called sound, too. Now I see that a "sound economy" really is not the same as a "robust economy". – Suppenteufel Dec 3 '17 at 17:09

In IT terms:

"Sound" has the connotation of working correctly / as expected under normal use. See definition (b) at Meriam Webster

"Robust" is stronger; it means that the software still works under more extreme conditions (vastly more users, coping with bad / flaky, internet connections, huge amounts of data, etc). See definition (d) at Merriam Webster

  • 1
    You should not accept an answer for twenty-four hours or so in case you get a better one than mine (which is likely; we have some super smart people here). If you accept the first answer you really reduce the odds of getting others. I'll gladly take an up vote, though! – James McLeod Dec 3 '17 at 15:52
  • Good to know. But it really made it clear to me. Should I undo the acceptance? – Suppenteufel Dec 3 '17 at 16:26
  • The answer would be better if it showed some references, e.g., dictionary definitions, pointing to which of the meanings for each are relevant to the question (about IT). – Drew Dec 3 '17 at 16:33
  • @Drew true. Added. – James McLeod Dec 3 '17 at 16:37
  • @Suppenteufel nah, I improved it so if someone comes along with something much better and feels passionate enough to offer it, you can change the accepted answer. But you can still also upvote this answer :-) – James McLeod Dec 3 '17 at 16:59

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