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Understanding Scientific Output

  1. Mar 15, 2012 #1
    I've been using a calculator and did end up with the answer in the form of 5.34588e-012 or something like that.
    I was learning Matlabs where I did

    I'm not into how did sin(pi) go equal to 1.2246e-016 but what does 1.2246e-016 mean ?

    I googled it and someplace it wrote

    Does this mean e3=10^3, 3e3=3*10^3 ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2012 #2
    You're spot on. In this scenario (as with many calculators) e simply means 'exponent' or 'times ten to the power of'. It's often shortened (as in Excel) to just XeY meaning 'X times ten to the power of Y'

    1.2246e-016 means 1.2246x10^-16
    Sure saves writing out 0.00000000000000012246 :)

    Don't be mixed up with e being the base of the natural logarithm (2.71828, it's an irrational constant, like Pi). I don't know what level of maths you're at, so if you haven't heard of e being used in this context, it's probably not something you need to worry about. If you know all about it already, ignore this.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  4. Mar 15, 2012 #3
    Yes I've the idea of ln and log along with exponential e^x or 10^x. So at first I too thought XeY= X*e^Y rather than X*10^Y.
    But I guess it's all clear now :)
    Thanks Mate
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