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Accuracy and sensitivity

  1. Mar 11, 2006 #1

    What exactly is the difference between accuracy and sensitivity as regards experimental apparatus?

    Thanks. :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Usually people use the term precision, not sensitivity, but the difference is that precision means always getting the same results (repeatable, reliable), while accuracy means always getting the correct results. The dartboard analogy is the usual way to visualize it:

  4. Mar 11, 2006 #3
    "Sensitivity" can be seen as an ability to differentiate fluctuations in a given observed or tested event. "Accuracy" can be seen as the tolerance limits placed on "sensitivity"
  5. Mar 12, 2006 #4


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    Science Advisor

    That sounds like repeatability. I know of the following expressions:
    resolution - the minimum change the device will show
    repeatability - as russ_watters said, the difference between two measurements of the same value
    accuracy - the difference between the measured value and the real value

    add: sensitivity - output signal times input signal, eg V/m when you measure length and the device gives you voltage.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2006
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