Worst case

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The term worst case denotes the worst or worst case (to be assumed) as Anglicism . The opposite of this is the best case, an average case is called the average case .

A similar term "meltdown" (maximum credible accident), predominantly in design Störfallen of nuclear power plants is utilized.


In business , the term is mainly used in the area of ​​planning and forecasting. The imaginary worst case serves to be prepared for the worst possible development in the implementation of a plan. A related concept is the advocatus diaboli , which takes on the role of a possible adversary in discussions. The worst-case scenario primarily affects “technical” aspects of a development over time: the case of a system failure, adverse external circumstances and the resulting consequences that then have to be dealt with. A popular guess on the probability of a worst case occurring is Murphy's law : "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

In planning processes it is important to recognize risks that could affect the attainability of a set goal. The worst-case assumption works out planning risks. By means of a risk analysis , brainstorming makes it relatively easy to work out which influencing factors or resources have a particular criticality and could prevent a set planning goal. Risks can be listed in a weighted matrix , their probability of occurrence can be forecast and the degree of impact of a partial scenario can be assessed.

In project planning, for example, you can intervene in good time and try to systematically prevent a risk from occurring by taking countermeasures and reducing the effects.

If you use network planning methods in the planning process , you can move along the identified critical planning path and try to systematically prevent risks.

Computer science

In computer science , the worst case refers to the case in which a certain algorithm or a certain data structure requires a maximum of the resource under consideration , such as runtime or storage space. In complexity theory , problems are usually classified using the worst case of the best possible corresponding algorithm.

Technology in general

In general, in all technical disciplines, the meeting of all the worst individual parts with the most disadvantageous tolerance for the function is called the worst case. In the tolerance analysis one therefore considers the interaction of all tolerances within a construction. Variables can be viewed in a number of ways, e.g. B. it makes sense to treat the temperature as a range variable; a realistic worst case can occur within the entire interval - but not outside of it. There are no fixed limits for statistical variables (e.g. following a normal distribution) . These only arise when you additionally z. B. must ensure a certain maximum failure rate (e.g. 1  ppm ).

Health sector

Worst-case scenarios are set up in connection with pandemics .

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Worst case  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations