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Non-zero digits are always significant. Thus, 22 has two

significant digits, and 22.3 has three significant digits.

With zeroes, the situation is more complicated:

1. Zeroes placed before other digits are not significant; 0.046 has
two significant digits.
2. Zeroes placed between other digits are always significant;
4009 kg has four significant digits.
3 .Zeroes placed after other digits but behind a decimal point are
significant; 7.90 has three significant digits.
Zeroes at the end of a number are significant only if they are
behind a decimal point as in (c). Otherwise, it is impossible to
tell if they are significant. notation to place significant zeroes
behind a decimal point:
8.200 103 has four significant digits For example, in the
number 8200, it is not clear if the zeroes are significant or not.
The number of significant digits in 8200 is at least two, but
could be three or four. To avoid uncertainty, use scientific
8.20 103 has three significant digits


5.67 J (two decimal places)
1.1 J (one decimal place)
0.9378 J (four decimal place)
7.7 J (one decimal place)

Floating point numbers are numbers that contain floating decimal points.
For example, the numbers 5.5, 0.001, and -2,345.6789 are floating point
numbers. Numbers that do not have decimal places are called integers.
For example:
Consider the number 123:
it can be written using exponential notation as:
1. 1.23 * 10

2. 12.3 * 10

3. 123 * 10

4. 0.123 * 10

5. 1230 * 10

All of these representations of the number 123 are numerically
equivalent. They differ only in their "normalization": where the
decimal point appears in the first number. In each case, the number
before the multiplication operator ("*") represents the significant figures
in the number (which distinguish it from other numbers with the same
normalization and exponent); we will call this number the "significand"
(also called the "mantissa" in other texts, which call the exponent the

Inherent errors are errors in the values of data. For example, caused by
uncertainty in measurements, by outright blunders, or by the necessary
approximate nature of representing some number by a finite number of
digits when that number cannot be represented exactly by that number of
Many numbers cannot be represented exactly in a given number of
decimal digits.
For example,
n can be written 3.14, 3.14159265 or 3.141592653589793. In any case
we have no exact value for which is a transcendental number and
therefore has no exact decimal representation. When using such numbers
in computation one would give the number to the maximum number of
significant figures that the arithmetic works to.
For example, if the computer uses 8 figure arithmetic it is no use
specifying it to 20 figures, the computer would not store the rightmost