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Concept# Significant figures

Summary

Significant figures (also known as the significant digits, precision or resolution) of a number in positional notation are digits in the number that are reliable and necessary to indicate the quantity of something.
If a number expressing the result of a measurement (e.g., length, pressure, volume, or mass) has more digits than the number of digits allowed by the measurement resolution, then only as many digits as allowed by the measurement resolution are reliable, and so only these can be significant figures.
For example, if a length measurement gives 114.8 mm while the smallest interval between marks on the ruler used in the measurement is 1 mm, then the first three digits (1, 1, and 4, showing 114 mm) are certain and so they are significant figures. Digits which are uncertain but reliable are also considered significant figures. In this example, the last digit (8, which adds 0.8 mm) is also considered a significant figure even though there is uncertainty in i

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