Browse Definitions:

fudge factor

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A fudge factor is an element inserted into a calculation, formula or model to allow for error or uncertainty. Fudge factors are also used to make something congruent with an observed or desired result. The word fudge, in this context, means to be intentionally unclear or imprecise. 

Fudge factors are commonly used to include variables in a calculation when a precise quantity is unknown or when a variable is subject to unpredictable change. In project management, fudge factors are commonly used in time estimates. In calculating the duration of some phase of the project, for example, a project manager might add a fudge factor of 50 percent to the estimate of how long that phase should take. The addition is intended to make it possible to meet the deadline even if unforeseen events cause delays, as they often do.  

The extra allotment can also cause problems, however. Because people tend to use all available time for a deadline, a project phase that might have been completed in two weeks often ends up taking three. To avoid that situation, it's wise to be conservative in the use of fudge factors. 

Fudge factors are commonly used in the sciences to make a calculation or formula work, when it's considered that the other elements involved are correct. If an empirically observed phenomenon cannot be explained by a theory, for example, a fudge factor may be introduced to make the theory work. Despite the requirement that scientific research be objective, cognitive bias -- particularly confirmation bias -- can pose a risk to the validity of a study through the introduction of fudge factors. 

One of the most famous fudge factors of all time is Einstein's cosmological constant. The scientist added the constant to his general theory of relativity to make it conform to his belief that the universe was neither contracting or expanding but was static. The fudge factor provided a repulsive force that explained why the universe did not collapse upon itself. When it was discovered that the universe is in fact expanding, however, Einstein had to remove the cosmological constant from his theory.   

This was last updated in September 2017

Continue Reading About fudge factor

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...




  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

  • all-flash array (AFA)

    An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash ...

  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.