- Measurement Uncertainty
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** Measure of data validity and accuracy.
**

Representative of the overall result.

Precision and accuracy.

Uncertainty Error.

Error.

Fixed (systematic).

o Predictable.

o Same for each reading.

o Removed by calibrations and corrections.

o Decreases accuracy.

Random (non-repeatable).

o Unpredictable.

o Different for every reading.

o Cannot be removed.

o Decreases precision.

Sources of errors.

Manufacturing Errors.

Design Inadequacy.

Operating Errors.

Environmental Errors.

Application Errors.

1

& Exp. 2) Uncertainty interval x .05 ./Exp. P. E 100 x app . Three steps of uncertainty estimation.) Overlapping: 5. 2 2 2 h P T u uh uP uT h P T u Results comparison. Single-sample experiment: one-half the smallest scale division./The. Relative uncertainty u / x . N 25 . (Exp. N 1 3) Propagation analysis.1 1 1. 1) Confidence limit. 1 E 100 3.141592653 2 . Uncertainty estimates result random errors. o Proper construction and calibration of equipment. f h. Population of data (N number of Data). Small . Equally . xexc. o Good reading and recording of data.1 0.3 . T . x m t 2 .4 0. N 25 N xi x 2 i 1 Mean standard deviation: x m N N 1 0. Assumption: fixed error is almost zero (negligible). Multi-variable measurements.3% 3. Standard engineering 95 %.2 and 5. Unlimited . x m .

3 .

1 n xi x 2 x m i 1 N N 1 20. 20.140 2. 21. Determine the uncertainty interval of the given mass measurements.7. 21.12 21.9. 20. m [kg] = 20. 21.2620. x m t 0. 20. 21. 21.4.6 21.9 21.Ex.317 m 21.3.1 0.6.025.140 t 2 . 20.9 0.6. 0.5.12 20.12 1010 1 0.9.8.05 N 10 N 1 9 x 21.317 kg 4 .140 0.6 21.6.

04 4% 4 2kxPT 4 x kx 2T 4 P 4kx 2 PT 3 T 2 2 x P T u ux uP uT x P T 2 2 2 x P T 2kxPT 4 u x kx 2T 4 u P 4kx 2 PT 3 uT 2 4 2 4 2 4 kx PT kx PT kx PT 2u x 2 u P 2 4uT 2 0.060 kg/m 3 5 . kx 2 PT 4 .16 0.3% kx 2 PT 4 0.02 mm . k 3 s 2 /m 4 C 4 .01 1% 2 uP 3 0. x 2 0.025 2.369 kg/m 3 0.369 0.369 0. Determine density relative uncertainty u .162 2 0.060 kg/m 3 0.0252 0. ux 0. P 120 3 Pa .022 0.16 C .163 16.Ex.5% 120 uT 0.163 0. T 4 0.02 0.

8 0.0% 200 u 0. 0.9 m/s 6 .08152 0.102 10.163 16.010 1.4 0.Ex.369 0.0% 9. uF 6 0. v k F2 g .012 2 2 2 kF 2 g u 2 2g kF g kF 2 g2 u g 2 ug 2 0.1 0.5 .4 m/s v 2479. Determine velocity relative uncertainty u v .3% ug 0.060 kg/m 3 . F 200 6 N . k 1 m1.1 m/s 2 .8 v 2kF F g v kF 2 2 g v kF 2 g g2 2 2 F v v g v uv uF u ug v F v v g 2 F 2kF 2 g kF g u F 2 kF g 2u F 2 12 u 0.9 m/s v 2479.102 252.5s/kg 2.03 3.4 252.062 0.2% v kF 2 g 2479. g 9.

5 8.01 9.5% 9.15 0.5 0.81 uh 0.9 kPa P 591.01 1% 50 u Pa 1 0.015 9.00832 0. h 50 0. Determine pressure relative uncertainty u P .15 kN/m 3 . uk 0.81 50 101 500.01 10. Pa 101 1 kPa .5 m .01 1% 101 P h k P k h P 1 Pa 2 2 P P k P h P u P u k uh a u Pa P k P h P Pa 2 2 2 P k h u k h k u h a 1u Pa kh Pa kh Pa kh Pa 2 2 2 9.5% P kh Pa 591.015 8. k 9.81 0.81 50 101 9.0017 2 0. P kh Pa .015 1. 5 0.Ex.81 50 101 9.5 kPa P 591.81 50 101 2 0.015 1.0122 0.810.9 kPa 7 .

They are usually associated with standard deviation The differences between accurate and precise are illustrated in Figure 1. “They affect the precision. Remember that when thinking about uncertainty.Uncertainty Analysis INTRODUCTION: It is important to understand sources of errors/uncertainties not only to ensure proper experimental procedure but to ensure the accuracy and precision of the results. Most errors can be determined using statistical approach. Fixed uncertainty does not necessarily mean that the uncertainty is repeatable. if an experiment has low fixed error it is said to be accurate” Different for each reading and are associated with unpredictable variation in the experimental conditions under which the experiment is being conducted. it is important to understand these associations. Systematic uncertainty decreases the accuracy of an experiment. e. where the black dots represent data points taken in a measurement of a quantity whose true value is at the center of the circles. e. if an experiment has low random error it is said to be precise”. 8 . measuring the length of a table with a steel tape that has a kink in it or measuring the period if a pendulum with a clock that runs too fast. Reference [1] outlines statistical procedure and computer programming commonly used in analyzing experimental data. “They affect the accuracy. i. There are two types of errors that shortly will be explained. random errors (can be modeled).g.. which is useful during experiments.g. Fixed errors are the same for each reading and can be eliminated by calibration. so they are worth repeating: Random uncertainty decreases the precision of an experiment. electrical noise from nearby machinery.e. The purpose of measurements is to determine a value of a property of interest (measurand) by means of an experimental procedure. The boiling point of water under 1 atmosphere The Rockwell hardness number of a given material The tensile strength of an elastic material The length of a metal bar The objective is to determine a value that is representative of the overall result.. TYPES OF ERRORS: Fixed Error: Random Error: Usually called systematic error and caused by faults in measuring instruments or technique. Examples of some quantities of interest includes. changes in room temperature. Uncertainty analysis is a procedure that is used to quantify data accuracy and validity. The variation of the results is due to the influence quantities (many of them) that are not constant. “Hard to discover”. it might be that the uncertainty involves physics that has not been accounted for in the analysis. These kind of errors are hard to be removed but yet “Easy to discover”. or improper measurements. imperfect connections..

Operating Errors: a] Failure to read indicated values correctly. c] Failure to apply an instrument squarely to a component. will lead to errors. SOURCES OF ERRORS: Manufacturing Errors: These errors can be eliminated by calibration. for small population. For large population size. wind and many others lead to additional errors. Keep in mind that you should always try to keep the error within 5%. greater than 25 points (n >25). They can always be eliminated completely by careful work. light reflection. In your laboratory reports never list misreading the instrument or getting the wrong units as a source of uncertainty. Application Errors: A thermometer and a casing inserted inside a pipe to measure the temperature of a hot flowing fluid will cause the heat to escape to the surrounding and hence the indicated temperature might not be the same as the fluid temperature. 9 . acceleration. Design Inadequacy: a] Assuming linear relation when designing an instrument or a component that is used as a measure of force or pressure which might not be accurate. normal distribution is usually used. t-distribution is used. b] Assuming that loading and unloading behavior are the same. ESTIMATION OF UNCERTAINTY: The estimation of the uncertainty depends on how large the population of your sample points. b] External disturbances such as vibrations. c] Accuracy of friction effects. temperature. Environmental Errors: a] Variations of local values such as pressure. whereas.Figure 1: A “bulls-eye" plot showing the distinction between precision and accuracy in a measurement. b] Failure to apply correct pressure between the measuring device and the object to be measured. less than 25 points (n <25). Note that blunders such as calculation errors are not a source of uncertainty.

in terms of the standard deviation of the mean .26%". which is usually associated with this kind of uncertainty.LARGE POPULATION (N>25): To estimate the random uncertainty in a given experimental data. SMALL POPULATION (N<25): To estimate the random uncertainty for small number of a given experimental data. which is usually associated with this kind of uncertainty. one would write The other way to report your results and its uncertainty is in the form defined as where is multiplied by 100.. x x n 1 (1) 2 i (2) n n 1 is the value being measured. There are two common ways to state the uncertainty of a result. To better illustrate this.3 g. it is required to calculate the standard deviation. using Keep in mind that has the same units as . ( x ) m where n is the number of data points. For example.2 g and the uncertainty in the mass is 0. The value of t /2. For example. or. it is required to calculate the standard deviation. v is the degree of freedom defined as v n 1 . One way to report your results and its uncertainty is in the form with the units placed last.02.v ( x ) m (3) where is usually taken to be 0. E t / 2.2 grams with an uncertainty of 3. if the average mass of an object is found to be 9. ux The quantity is the reading i and ( x )m x is the mean standard deviation and is given by. or in terms of a percent or fractional uncertainty . and is the mean of the value under consideration.2 g and the error in the mass Em is 0. For the above example. which corresponds to 98% confidence. if the average mass of an object is found to be 9. one would write.3 g. The ball is not centered between the jaws. while is always unitless. and ( x )m is the standard deviation of the mean.e. 10 . It is preferred that you report your measurements as given in the first form.v is obtained from Table IV from reference [2]. i. Balls are not perfectly round. consider ten students measuring the diameter of a steel ball with a Vernier calipers. . The sources of error may include but not limited to: Some students tighten the Vernier caliper more than others resulting in different reading. The temperature of the ball may change causing contraction or expansion. It is almost impossible that all the measurements to be identical. is as follows. n is the number of data points. is the value being measured. one can report the results as “The mass of the object is 9. The relationship between and for the quantity of interest be xi. The results should be reported in the form with the units placed last.

This disagreement is usually presented as a percent of the value of the quantity. R x1 R x2 is a function of many variable and u x1 (4) is given by. we could say that they disagree by 11 . u PERCENTAGE ERROR: In quick measurements. Incorporate the propagation of uncertainty into the results.005 g) and the resulting weight is written as 9. i. State the confidence limit on each measurement (± ). we may not always calculate uncertainties for the quantities we measure. these results can also be reported as defined as where is multiplied by 100. For example.e. For example. u x1 . using Equations (3) and (4) the uncertainty of the density . To obtain the effect of these individual uncertainties on the overall value and the error propagation in experimental data. is given as.57 0. ux2 . SINGLE-SAMPLE EXPERIMENT: For single-sample experiment. which is given in Equation (3).57 g. the single-sample uncertainty is ( 0. one should proceed as follows: Estimate the uncertainty interval for each quantity “measurand”. Therefore.005 g. x1 ( x1 )m xi xi (5) The quantity is the error in reading 1. if we did not have uncertainties calculated for the above two density values. the standard deviation of a given quantity (). ERROR PROPAGATION: Often times we deal with functions of many parameters and each has its own uncertainty. if five students measure the weight of specimen only once and found it to be 9. the best we can state is that two values disagree by some amount. the uncertainty can be approximated by ±½ (the minimum measuring unit). The uncertainty propagation of a given value in the calculations is given by: 1 Where 2 x R 2 x R 2 1 2 u R .As in the case of large population. For example. In these cases. 2 u 2 2 h P T uh uP uT h P T (6) and. then the error is one-half the least unit measurement of scale (0.01)..

If uncertainties do not exist. 2003. Applied Statistics and Probability for Engineers. If not. if a theory predicts that the density of an object should be .ERROR REPORTING: When comparing a physical quantity obtained by two different methods one wants to know whether they agree or not. and D. In general. there may be a source of systematic error that is fouling the accuracy of the measurement. calculate a percent disagreement. McGraw-Hill. In the case of disagreement. 12 . or more vexing. This is especially true when comparing against theoretically calculated values. then we can say the two values agree within the experimental uncertainty.C. they are probably not in agreement. and see if they overlap. Keith Robinson Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences. [2] Montgomery. New York. one important clue can be used when comparing measurements with each other. 2nd edition. D. they agree. state the quantities with their uncertainty. as the theory almost always assumes some simplifications in order to make the calculation reasonable (for example. but in so doing. For example. REFERENCES [1] Bevington. one may uncover other sources of systematic error that were previously invisible! You will often be asked to determine what the dominant source of error is in a particular experiment. then we would be forced to admit that the two values did not agree. If uncertainties for one or both numbers (expressed by an associated ) have been calculated. If the percent disagreement is less than a few percent. this is a subtle problem as there is no general method for determining systematic error. sources of random error are easier to track down and rectify. Wiley.C. However. G. The general rules for comparing results in lab reports are these: If uncertainties exist. that is. To reiterate: systematic error comes into an experiment when the experimenter neglects some important physics in the analysis. 1999. If the disagreement is more than ten percent. But if the measurement gave instead . or with theory: if the measured quantity including the uncertainty calculated from random sources of error does not overlap with another expected value (either from another experiment or theory) then you can assume that the systematic error in the experiment dominates the experimental error. and a measurement gives a value of . discuss the physics of the experiment and try to come up with some sources of systematic error. Philip R. neglecting the weight of a string or assuming that friction is zero). and you should try to explain why. and you should try to explain why. they don't. 3rd edition. Generally. If they do. one can say that the two numbers agree with each other if they overlap within their uncertainties. and Runger.. the results are probably in agreement.. what effects have not been accounted for? There could be a source of additional random error that has not been appreciated. the experimenter faces a problem.

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