concepts used in engineering applications. Simple algebraic applications, including exponents and logarithms, are reviewed. Other useful topics include: interpolation, graphical presentations, the rate equation, and the concept of mass and energy balances.
Knowledge of basic problem-solving principles is essential for understanding many of the engineering applications in food engineering. This unit includes a review of several basic problem-solving topics needed to understand subjects covered in subsequent units. Guidelines for presentation of information are also included. The material is presented as a review only. If you understand the topics, you do not need to read this unit. If you do not understand them, you should read the unit, study the examples, and work the problems given at the end of the unit.
Note the significance of the zeros in the examples above. The numbers 2.2 and 2.20 represent different degrees of precision because the added zero is a significant digit. On the other hand, zeros following a decimal but preceding the first non-zero digit are
Wilhelm, Luther R., Dwayne A. Suter, and Gerald H. Brusewitz. 2004. Introduction: \ue000 Problem-Solving Skills. Chapter 1 in Food & Process Engineering Technology, 1-21. \ue001 St. Joseph, Michigan: ASAE. \u00a9 American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
not significant digits since they only serve to place the decimal. The last number (2200) is ambiguous since it may have been rounded to the nearest whole number (4 significant digits) or the nearest 10 or the nearest 100. This ambiguity can be elimi- nated by the use of scientific notation (e.g., 2.200\u00d7 103 and 2.2\u00d7 103 show four and two significant digits respectively.)
The precision of results from any arithmetic calculation depends upon the precision of the least precise number used in the calculations. Thus if two numbers are multi- plied (i.e., 2.2\u00d7 3.1416) the result, 6.9115, implies false precision because it contains more significant digits than the least accurate factor in the multiplication. Thus the result in this example should be rounded to 6.9. This procedure applies identically for division. For addition and subtraction, the results should be rounded to the number of decimal points included in the least precise number.
The above comments represent the official guidelines for significant digits. In actual practice, these rules are not always followed. For example, a length may be expressed as 1 m when it is actually 1.0 m or 1.00 m. Because numbers are often presented in less than the true number of significant digits, it is common practice to present calculated results as 3 significant digits\u2014even though the rules may call for only one or two significant digits.
You should also be cautious in rounding numbers. A series of numerical calcula- tions should be carried out with several significant digits and the final answer rounded to an appropriate number of significant digits. For example, 10/3 equals 3.33333\u2026, not 3 or 3.3.
Numerical quantities without units generally carry little meaning in engineering problems. Consequently, including the correct units with the numerical answer to a problem is just as important as arriving at the correct numerical value. A brief discussion of units and a list of many common unit conversion factors are included in
Unit analysis affords a valuable aid in solving many physical problems. Some problems require only the conversion of units for a solution. Others may require a more thorough analysis of the problem before finding the number and units for the solution. Virtually all problems involving food engineering applications involve numbers with units. Thus, close monitoring of units is essential.
The combination of numbers and units in the numerator of a unit factor is equal to the combination of numbers and units in the denominator. Thus, the actual value of the ratio is one, or unity. The numerical values alone are usually not equal to one since they serve as conversion multipliers for the units involved.
The following example shows how a unit factor problem can be set up for a sys- tematic solution. The steps may seem unnecessary for this simple problem; however, you can avoid difficulties with more complicated problems by following this proce- dure.
Once the pertinent information is included, the solution consists of multiplying the basic data on the right hand side of the equation by appropriate unit factors to obtain the desired final results. Many different unit factors can usually be used to obtain the desired results; however, the better solutions will be those that produce a logical solution with a minimum number of unit factors. The follow- ing is one such \u201cbetter\u201d solution:
The units on the right side of the equation are canceled to produce the resulting units on the left side of the equation. The numeric answer is then written in the blank on the left side of the equation.
An equation is a statement of equality between one or more expressions involving variables and constants. The equation for a straight line (y = ax + b) is a simple example. We solve equations by manipulating them such that the equality of the equation is not affected. Such changes are: addition or subtraction of the same number or variable to each side (y \u2013 y = ax + b \u2013 y and b + y = ax + b + b); multiplication of each side by the same number or variable (ky = kax + kb); or dividing each side by the same non-zero number or variable (y/a = x + b/a).
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