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Concept# System of units of measurement

Summary

A system of units of measurement, also known as a system of units or system of measurement, is a collection of units of measurement and rules relating them to each other. Systems of measurement have historically been important, regulated and defined for the purposes of science and commerce. Instances in use include the International System of Units or () (the modern form of the metric system), the British imperial system, and the United States customary system.
Units of measurement#History
The French Revolution gave rise to the metric system, and this has spread around the world, replacing most customary units of measure. In most systems, length (distance), mass, and time are base quantities.
Later science developments showed that an electromagnetic quantity such as electric charge or electric current could be added to extend the set of base quantities. Gaussian units have only length, mass, and time as base quantities, with no separate electromagnetic dimension. Other quantities, such as power and speed, are derived from the base set: for example, speed is distance per unit time. Historically a wide range of units was used for the same type of quantity: in different contexts, length was measured in inches, feet, yards, fathoms, rods, chains, furlongs, miles, nautical miles, stadia, leagues, with conversion factors that were not powers of ten.
The preference for a more universal and consistent system only gradually spread with the growth of international trade and science. Changing a measurement system has costs in the near term, which results in resistance to such a change. The substantial benefit of conversion to a more rational and internationally consistent system of measurement has been recognized and promoted by scientists, engineers and politicians, and has resulted in most of the world adopting a commonly agreed metric system.
In antiquity, systems of measurement were defined locally: the different units might be defined independently according to the length of a king's thumb or the size of his foot, the length of stride, the length of arm, or maybe the weight of water in a keg of specific size, perhaps itself defined in hands and knuckles.

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