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Concept# Measurement uncertainty

Summary

In metrology, measurement uncertainty is the expression of the statistical dispersion of the values attributed to a measured quantity. All measurements are subject to uncertainty and a measurement result is complete only when it is accompanied by a statement of the associated uncertainty, such as the standard deviation. By international agreement, this uncertainty has a probabilistic basis and reflects incomplete knowledge of the quantity value. It is a non-negative parameter.
The measurement uncertainty is often taken as the standard deviation of a state-of-knowledge probability distribution over the possible values that could be attributed to a measured quantity. Relative uncertainty is the measurement uncertainty relative to the magnitude of a particular single choice for the value for the measured quantity, when this choice is nonzero. This particular single choice is usually called the measured value, which may be optimal in some well-defined sense (e.g., a mean, median, or mode). Thus, the relative measurement uncertainty is the measurement uncertainty divided by the absolute value of the measured value, when the measured value is not zero.
The purpose of measurement is to provide information about a quantity of interest – a measurand. For example, the measurand might be the size of a cylindrical feature, the volume of a vessel, the potential difference between the terminals of a battery, or the mass concentration of lead in a flask of water.
No measurement is exact. When a quantity is measured, the outcome depends on the measuring system, the measurement procedure, the skill of the operator, the environment, and other effects. Even if the quantity were to be measured several times, in the same way and in the same circumstances, a different measured value would in general be obtained each time, assuming the measuring system has sufficient resolution to distinguish between the values.
The dispersion of the measured values would relate to how well the measurement is performed.

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A test method is a method for a test in science or engineering, such as a physical test, chemical test, or statistical test. It is a definitive procedure that produces a test result. In order to ensure accurate and relevant test results, a test method should be "explicit, unambiguous, and experimentally feasible.", as well as effective and reproducible. A test can be considered an observation or experiment that determines one or more characteristics of a given sample, product, process, or service.

Calibration

In measurement technology and metrology, calibration is the comparison of measurement values delivered by a device under test with those of a calibration standard of known accuracy. Such a standard could be another measurement device of known accuracy, a device generating the quantity to be measured such as a voltage, a sound tone, or a physical artifact, such as a meter ruler.

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