# Is there a simple formula when for getting the right sig-digs?

student34

## Homework Statement

I have no problem knowing how to find the right sig-digs when just doing one of: adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing. But, I know doing them all at once in more complicated equations gets trickier.

For example, something like 110.0 + (500434.0 - 34.0)/0.37

## The Attempt at a Solution

This is my thought process for finding sig-digs when addition/subtraction is combined with multiplication/division. The answer may be correct by luck, but I know that this is not the right way to come up with the correct number of sig-digs.

110.0 + (500434.0 - 34.0)/0.37
= 110.0 + 500434.0/0.37
= 110.0 + 1.4*10^6 (I make 500434/0.37 equal 2 sig digs because the denominator only has 2 sig-digs.)
= 1.4001100*10^6 (Then I increase the sig-digs by 5 because I am adding 110.0.)

I know this process is wrong because my professor tried to explain to me that there is an intermediate step that I am missing. I can't grasp what it is though.

If it is correct, it is because of pure luck.

Last edited:

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
You made a sign error in the very first step. You should fix that first.

student34
You made a sign error in the very first step. You should fix that first.

Thanks, I meant to put 5400 - 34 instead of 34 - 5400, so I can use both + and - in the example.

Staff Emeritus