University of California, San Diego

June 27, 1997
As you may have heard, the timely arrival of the next millennium is causing headaches to many of us in the computing and information technology business. The issue has become so "popular" that it now has its own nickname (Y2K) and it sprouted many new start-up companies which specialize in this area.
The primary exposure comes from the use of two digits instead of four digits for year representation within computer programs, files, and databases. For example, the year 1997 is represented as '97', the year 1999 as '99', and so on. Thus, January 1, 2000 is represented as 01/01/00 and consequently might be interpreted as January 1, 1900. This causes programs that perform arithmetic operations, comparisons, or sorting of date fields to yield incorrect results when manipulating dates of 2000 and beyond.
ACT has been addressing these issues for centrally-supported administrative computing and telecommunications systems since 1996. I am pleased to let you know that these central systems are in relatively good shape and that we expect to complete all changes and tests by the end of 1998.
However, the scope of the Year 2000 challenge goes far beyond ACT and it may directly affect you and your department. Date problems can exist in any level of hardware or software and are likely to be present in locally supported systems on campus. For example, local spreadsheets or reports may calculate erroneous age of people if they contain two digit year dates.
Given the decentralized nature of UCSD computing, it is not possible for any one department to single handedly address this problem. I encourage you to evaluate your department's exposure to Year 2000 problems and start addressing them as soon as possible. We have produced a document that describes the issues and presents some solutions. The document is
available at http://www-act.ucsd.edu/year2000/y2kpref.html on the Web and I hope that you will take the time to go through it. Additionally, you may want to take a look at the http://www.year2000.com site which has links to many other resources.
If you need any additional information, please contact our Y2K coordinator, Ken Popp (kpopp@ucsd.edu) or Abby Zubov of Internal Audit (azubov@ucsd.edu).
Elazar C. Harel
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Administrative Computing & Telecommunications
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