Significant Figures concept

  • Thread starter Demiwing
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  • #1
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I don't really get the concept of significant figures. Anyone can help me out?
1200 X 23.4
What is that in significant figures?
 

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  • #2
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*Significant figures = "sigfigs"
Remember that products will have as many sigfigs as the least accurate multiplier.
Here, in your case, 1200 [itex] \Rightarrow [/itex] 2 sigfigs, and 23.4 [itex] \Rightarrow [/itex] 3 sigfigs.

*Therefore, the product will have two sigfigs, represented as [itex] 28000 = 2.8 \cdot 10^4 [/itex]

->Just remember the sigfigs product rule here :wink:
 
  • #3
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I always hated those when I was first learning them. Here are the basic rules.

-All digits except zeros at the beginning of the number are significant.
i.e 9.12 (3) 0.912 (3) 0.00000912 (3)

-Terminal zeros @ right of decimal point are significant.
i.e 912.0 has four.


Multiplication and division;

Final answer has the same amount of significant figures as the number with the least sig fig in original problem.

i.e 34.987 x 54.2 = 1896.3

Addition and subtraction;

Final answer has the same number of sig fig as the number with the least number of decimal places.
i.e 12.9875 + 1.23 = 14.22


I think the best way to explain it is, you answer can only be as accurate as the least accurate answer. If that makes sense.


If you still don't get it, I have another way to explain but it's as long, if not longer than this. I don't really want to type that out yet. Haha.

Hope this helps.
 
  • #4
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erok81 said:
I always hated those when I was first learning them. Here are the basic rules.
Hmm, I always liked sigfigs, never hated learning them.. :smile:
 
Last edited:
  • #5
GCT
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first term has two sig figs, the second has three, your final product should have two sig figs.
 
  • #6
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bomba923 said:
Hmm, I always liked sigfigs, never hated learning them.. :smile:
Ok, not really hated. But they are easy to get confused on. So as I was learning them I can't say I liked them. :tongue2:

But after the first few minutes I liked them. Most of the class was still having problems with them by the end though.
 
  • #7
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The concept is very simple, but it is surprisingly easy to make a mistake when working with sigfigs.
 
  • #8
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apmcavoy said:
The concept is very simple, but it is surprisingly easy to make a mistake when working with sigfigs.
*Mostly I just double-check my work to ensure proper use of sigfigs :cool:
However, the stupid mistakes I do make :shy:, are just silly arithmetic errors (working under duress!), usually (+) sometimes (-). Though when working under pressure/duress...double-checking isn't always convenient :rolleyes:
 

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