Presenting Data

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Study Text: "Essential Mathematics and Statistics for Science", 2nd ed, G Currell and A A Dowman (Wiley-Blackwell)

QVA (questions and video answers) Tutorials

Scientific (standard) notation Study text: Section 2.1.2 (p8)
Significant figures (in preparation) Study text: Sections 2.1.5 (p11) and 2.1.7 (p12)

Scientific (standard) notation

Scientific (also called standard) notation expresses and number, by placing the decimal point after the first non-zero digit and then multiplying by an appropriate power of ten to get the correct value, e.g.
67046 is written as 6.7046 × 104
0.0957 is written as 9.57 × 10-2

Significant figures

The final presented value should be written so that it does not infer a precision that is greater than the true precision of the measurement.

For example:
• a recorded value of 6.3 implies that the true value lies between 6.25 and 6.35, whereas
• a recorded value of 6.30 implies that the true value lies between 6.295 and 6.305.
The final ‘0’ is a significant digit which increases the precision of the value.

To express the final result to the correct precision it is often necessary to ‘round’ the value to the appropriate number of significant figures.However, it is also important NOT to round data too much in the middle of the calculations as this can produce a cumulative error in the final result.

book cover

This on-line Study Guide has been developed by Graham Currell in association with:
University of the West of England,
"Essential Mathematics and Statistic for Science", 2nd Edition,
Graham Currell and Antony Dowman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009