# (Easy) Finding initial velocity from uniform acceleration

• 2k8bomb
In summary: Thanks again for the clarification!In summary, the conversation is about a problem involving using significant figures in a physics calculation. The person asking the question is confused about why their answer is different from the textbook's answer, and they have included an image of their working. The expert explains that their working is correct, but they have rounded off their final answer too early. They also provide a tip for using significant figures in future calculations.
2k8bomb
Hi, I don't know what I'm doing wrong but these significant figures seem to be screwing me up.
Problem:
A bike rider accelerates constantly to a velocity of 7.5 m/s during 4.5 s. The bike's displacement is +19 m. What was the initial velocity of the bike?
The textbook says the answer is 0.94 m/s, but I got 0.9 m/s. I've attached an image showing the steps I took to get to my answer...where did I go wrong?

Your working is correct, What you can also do is set up two simultaneous equations. your given enough information to set up two kinematic equations with two unkowns, (unknowns should be acceleration and initial velocty) then solve simultaneously. both ways get same answer and is correct its just that you have missed out a decimal place in your answer which should give you 0.94 as you said. remember answer must have the same number of significant figures as the number with the most sig figs in the question.

try to work to as many decimal places as you can in your working out then cut down to the correct significant figures in your final answer

Bostonpancake0 said:
Your working is correct, What you can also do is set up two simultaneous equations. your given enough information to set up two kinematic equations with two unkowns, (unknowns should be acceleration and initial velocty) then solve simultaneously. both ways get same answer and is correct its just that you have missed out a decimal place in your answer which should give you 0.94 as you said. remember answer must have the same number of significant figures as the number with the most sig figs in the question.

Oh okay, thank you. I did not know that my answer is supposed to have the same number of significant figures as the number with the most sig figs in the question. So I work it out to as many decimal places as I can, then cut it down to the number with the most sig figs? In future cases, does this still apply if the number with the most sig figs is of a different measurement (time, displacement, velocity, etc) than my answer?

welcome to pf!

hi 2k8bomb! welcome to pf!

no, the answer should be the least number of significant figures in the question

and, most importantly, do not round off to that number during the calculation!

(you can round off a little, but not completely)

in this case, your 38/4.5 should have been 8.444 (not 8.4), so that when you subtracted 7.5 you still had 3 sig figs (0.944) that you could finally round off correctly (up or down) to 2 sig figs (0.94)

see https://www.physicsforums.com/library.php?do=view_item&itemid=523

EDIT: CORRECTION, see below

Last edited:
sorry 2k8bomb i meant least amount, always get that mixed up...

actually, on second thoughts , i think your answer (0.9) was correct

my warning not to round off completely during the caclulation is still correct, but its only purpose is to avoid cumulative rounding errors (eg, 2.4 + 2.4 ends up as 2 + 2 = 4 instead of 5 ! )

the problem here was not cumulative rounding, it was that there was a multiplication followed by an addition (or subtraction), for which the rules are different

this this case, you had 8.444 minus 7.5 …

the rule for addition/subtraction (as i suspect you know ) is to use the smallest number of decimal places, in this case 1 place, giving 0.9

(compare the three closest available inputs, 7.4 7.5 and 7.6 … the results are 0.844 0.944 and 1.044, which obviously are only reliable to 1 decimal place: 0.8 0.9 and 1.0)

so i think the book is wrong

what do other people think?

tiny-tim said:
actually, on second thoughts , i think your answer (0.9) was correct

my warning not to round off completely during the caclulation is still correct, but its only purpose is to avoid cumulative rounding errors (eg, 2.4 + 2.4 ends up as 2 + 2 = 4 instead of 5 ! )

the problem here was not cumulative rounding, it was that there was a multiplication followed by an addition (or subtraction), for which the rules are different

this this case, you had 8.444 minus 7.5 …

the rule for addition/subtraction (as i suspect you know ) is to use the smallest number of decimal places, in this case 1 place, giving 0.9

(compare the three closest available inputs, 7.4 7.5 and 7.6 … the results are 0.844 0.944 and 1.044, which obviously are only reliable to 1 decimal place: 0.8 0.9 and 1.0)

so i think the book is wrong

what do other people think?
Thank you for the response, but in reference to sig figs, isn't 38 divided by 4.5 = 8.4? Since they both have 2 significant figures. Argh, this should be the easy part of physics but I find myself getting easily confused

hi 2k8bomb!
2k8bomb said:
Thank you for the response, but in reference to sig figs, isn't 38 divided by 4.5 = 8.4? Since they both have 2 significant figures.

if that's the end of the question, yes, you do it to 2 sig figs, and 38/4.5 = 8.4

but it's only an intermediate step, so you must always keep at least one extra sig fig, to be safe

(in this case, it makes no difference to the final result, but it's best to be safe)

suppose instead of 38/4.5 - 7.5 it was 5.1/4.5 - 0.77

that would be 1.13 - 0.77 = 0.36 to 2 decimal places

(if you round off too early, you get 1.1 - 0.77 = 0.33 )​

tiny-tim said:
hi 2k8bomb! if that's the end of the question, yes, you do it to 2 sig figs, and 38/4.5 = 8.4

but it's only an intermediate step, so you must always keep at least one extra sig fig, to be safe

(in this case, it makes no difference to the final result, but it's best to be safe)

suppose instead of 38/4.5 - 7.5 it was 5.1/4.5 - 0.77

that would be 1.13 - 0.77 = 0.36 to 2 decimal places

(if you round off too early, you get 1.1 - 0.77 = 0.33 )​
Great, thank you. That cleared up a bunch of past confusion and potential future frustration as well.

## 1. How is initial velocity related to uniform acceleration?

Initial velocity is the velocity of an object at the beginning of its motion. It is related to uniform acceleration because the initial velocity determines how fast the object is moving at the start of its motion, while uniform acceleration determines how quickly the object's velocity changes over time.

## 2. What is the formula for finding initial velocity from uniform acceleration?

The formula for finding initial velocity from uniform acceleration is v0 = v - at, where v is the final velocity, a is the acceleration, and t is the time elapsed. This formula is derived from the equation v = v0 + at, which relates an object's final velocity to its initial velocity, acceleration, and time elapsed.

## 3. Can initial velocity be negative when using uniform acceleration?

Yes, initial velocity can be negative when using uniform acceleration. A negative initial velocity indicates that the object is moving in the opposite direction of the acceleration. For example, if an object is initially moving to the left with a velocity of -5 m/s and has a uniform acceleration of 2 m/s2, its initial velocity would be calculated as -5 m/s + (2 m/s2 * 0 seconds) = -5 m/s.

## 4. How does the angle of acceleration affect the calculation of initial velocity?

The angle of acceleration does not affect the calculation of initial velocity as long as the acceleration remains constant. The formula for finding initial velocity from uniform acceleration is applicable regardless of the angle of acceleration, as long as the acceleration is uniform throughout the motion.

## 5. What is the difference between initial velocity and average velocity?

Initial velocity is the velocity of an object at the beginning of its motion, while average velocity is the average rate of change of an object's position over a specific time interval. While initial velocity is a single value, average velocity takes into account the changes in velocity over time. Average velocity is calculated by dividing the change in position by the change in time, while initial velocity is calculated using the formula v0 = v - at.

• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
11
Views
311
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
2
Views
270
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
3
Views
874
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
5
Views
1K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
6
Views
1K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
17
Views
1K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
10
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
5
Views
959
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
5
Views
4K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
516