# 1.3 Accuracy, precision, and significant figures  (Page 5/12)

 Page 5 / 12
$A={\mathrm{\pi r}}^{2}=\left(3\text{.}\text{1415927}\text{.}\text{.}\text{.}\right)×{\left(1\text{.}2\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}\right)}^{2}=4\text{.}\text{5238934}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{\text{m}}^{2}$

is what you would get using a calculator that has an eight-digit output. But because the radius has only two significant figures, it limits the calculated quantity to two significant figures or

$A\text{=}4\text{.}5\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{\text{m}}^{2}\text{,}$

even though $\pi$ is good to at least eight digits.

2. For addition and subtraction: The answer can contain no more decimal places than the least precise measurement . Suppose that you buy 7.56-kg of potatoes in a grocery store as measured with a scale with precision 0.01 kg. Then you drop off 6.052-kg of potatoes at your laboratory as measured by a scale with precision 0.001 kg. Finally, you go home and add 13.7 kg of potatoes as measured by a bathroom scale with precision 0.1 kg. How many kilograms of potatoes do you now have, and how many significant figures are appropriate in the answer? The mass is found by simple addition and subtraction:

$\begin{array}{}\phantom{+1}7.56\phantom{0}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\phantom{=15.2\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\text{.}}\\ -\phantom{1}6.052\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\phantom{=15.2\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\text{.}}\\ \frac{+13.7\phantom{00}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}}{\phantom{+}15.208\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}}=15.2\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\text{.}\end{array}$

Next, we identify the least precise measurement: 13.7 kg. This measurement is expressed to the 0.1 decimal place, so our final answer must also be expressed to the 0.1 decimal place. Thus, the answer is rounded to the tenths place, giving us 15.2 kg.

## Significant figures in this text

In this text, most numbers are assumed to have three significant figures. Furthermore, consistent numbers of significant figures are used in all worked examples. You will note that an answer given to three digits is based on input good to at least three digits, for example. If the input has fewer significant figures, the answer will also have fewer significant figures. Care is also taken that the number of significant figures is reasonable for the situation posed. In some topics, particularly in optics, more accurate numbers are needed and more than three significant figures will be used. Finally, if a number is exact , such as the two in the formula for the circumference of a circle, $c=2\pi r$ , it does not affect the number of significant figures in a calculation.

Perform the following calculations and express your answer using the correct number of significant digits.

(a) A woman has two bags weighing 13.5 pounds and one bag with a weight of 10.2 pounds. What is the total weight of the bags?

(b) The force $F$ on an object is equal to its mass $m$ multiplied by its acceleration $a$ . If a wagon with mass 55 kg accelerates at a rate of , what is the force on the wagon? (The unit of force is called the newton, and it is expressed with the symbol N.)

(a) 37.2 pounds; Because the number of bags is an exact value, it is not considered in the significant figures.

(b) 1.4 N; Because the value 55 kg has only two significant figures, the final value must also contain two significant figures.

## Phet explorations: estimation

Explore size estimation in one, two, and three dimensions! Multiple levels of difficulty allow for progressive skill improvement.

## Summary

• Accuracy of a measured value refers to how close a measurement is to the correct value. The uncertainty in a measurement is an estimate of the amount by which the measurement result may differ from this value.
• Precision of measured values refers to how close the agreement is between repeated measurements.
• The precision of a measuring tool is related to the size of its measurement increments. The smaller the measurement increment, the more precise the tool.
• Significant figures express the precision of a measuring tool.
• When multiplying or dividing measured values, the final answer can contain only as many significant figures as the least precise value.
• When adding or subtracting measured values, the final answer cannot contain more decimal places than the least precise value.

#### Questions & Answers

What does mean ohms law imply
Victoria Reply
what is matter
folajin Reply
Anything that occupies space
Kevin
Any thing that has weight and occupies space
Victoria
Anything which we can feel by any of our 5 sense organs
Suraj
Right
Roben
thanks
Suraj
what is a sulphate
Alo
any answers
Alo
the time rate of increase in velocity is called
Blessing Reply
acceleration
Emma
What is uniform velocity
Victoria
Greetings,users of that wonderful app.
Frank Reply
how to solve pressure?
Cruz Reply
how do we calculate weight and eara eg an elefant that weight 2000kg has four fits or legs search of surface eara is 0.1m2(1metre square) incontact with the ground=10m2(g =10m2)
Cruz
P=F/A
Mira
can someone derive the formula a little bit deeper?
Bern
what is coplanar force?
OLADITI Reply
what is accuracy and precision
Peace Reply
How does a current follow?
Vineeta Reply
follow?
akif
which one dc or ac current.
akif
how does a current following?
Vineeta
?
akif
AC current
Vineeta
AC current follows due to changing electric field and magnetic field.
akif
you guys are just saying follow is flow not follow please
Abubakar
ok bro thanks
akif
flows
Abubakar
but i wanted to understand him/her in his own language
akif
but I think the statement is written in English not any other language
Abubakar
my mean that in which form he/she written this,will understand better in this form, i write.
akif
ok
Abubakar
ok thanks bro. my mistake
Vineeta
u are welcome
Abubakar
what is a semiconductor
Vineeta Reply
substances having lower forbidden gap between valence band and conduction band
akif
what is a conductor?
Vineeta
replace lower by higher only
akif
convert 56°c to kelvin
Abubakar
How does a current follow?
Vineeta
A semiconductor is any material whose conduction lies between that of a conductor and an insulator.
AKOWUAH
what is Atom? what is molecules? what is ions?
Abubakar Reply
What is a molecule
Samuel Reply
Is a unit of a compound that has two or more atoms either of the same or different atoms
Justice
A molecule is the smallest indivisible unit of a compound, Just like the atom is the smallest indivisible unit of an element.
Rachel
what is a molecule?
Vineeta
what is a vector
smith Reply
A quantity that has both a magnitude AND a direction. E.g velocity, acceleration, force are all vector quantities. Hope this helps :)
deage
what is the difference between velocity and relative velocity?
Mackson
Velocity is the rate of change of displacement with time. Relative velocity on the other hand is the velocity observed by an observer with respect to a reference point.
Chuks
what do u understand by Ultraviolet catastrophe?
Rufai
A certain freely falling object, released from rest, requires 1.5seconds to travel the last 30metres before it hits the ground. (a) Find the velocity of the object when it is 30metres above the ground.
Mackson
A vector is a quantity that has both magnitude and direction
Rufus
the velocity Is 20m/s-2
Rufus
derivation of electric potential
Rugunda Reply
V = Er = (kq/r^2)×r V = kq/r Where V: electric potential.
Chuks
what is the difference between simple motion and simple harmonic motion ?
syed
hi
Peace
hi
Rufus
hi
Chip
simple harmonic motion is a motion of tro and fro of simple pendulum and the likes while simple motion is a linear motion on a straight line.
Muinat
a body acceleration uniform from rest a 6m/s -2 for 8sec and decelerate uniformly to rest in the next 5sec,the magnitude of the deceleration is ?
Patricia Reply
The wording not very clear kindly
Moses
6
Leo
9.6m/s2
Jolly
the magnitude of deceleration =-9.8ms-2. first find the final velocity using the known acceleration and time. next use the calculated velocity to find the size of deceleration.
Mackson
wrong
Peace
-3.4m/s-2
Justice
Hi
Abj
Firstly, calculate final velocity of the body and then the deceleration. The final ans is,-9.6ms-2
Muinat
8x6= 48m/-2 use v=u + at 48÷5=9.6
Lawrence
can i define motion like this motion can be define as the continuous change of an object or position
Shuaib Reply
Any object in motion will come to rest after a time duration. Different objects may cover equal distance in different time duration. Therefore, motion is defined as a change in position depending on time.
Chuks

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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