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significant figures

 Definition/Summary Significant figures (commonly called "sig figs") are the number of figures (digits) included when rounding-off a number. For example, 789.001 to 6 5 4 3 2 and 1 sig figs is 789.001 789.00 789.0 789 790 and 800 respectively (note the presence and absence of "0"s in 5 4 and 3 sig figs). By comparison, 789.001 to 3 2 and 1 decimal places is 789.001 789.00 and 789.0 respectively. The rules about how to round-off are not entirely agreed upon. Basically, when multiplying and dividing given numbers, round-off the result to the lowest number of sig figs given; when adding and subtracting given numbers, round-off the result to the "highest" decimal place given; and use more figures in intermediate steps in a long calculation than in the final result.

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 Breakdown Mathematics > Number Theory >> Rounding