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Estimation&CommonSense

Calculators,equations,mathematicalmodelsareusefulonlyifyoucanrelyonthe
answer.Youneedtobeabletodoaquickestimatetoseeiftheansweryouregettingis
reasonable.
TECHNIQUES
Rounding

Roundingannumberupordowngivesagoodapproximation.

Toroundtothenearest10,lookatthelastdigit:Ifitis4orless,rounddownifitis
5ormore,roundup.
1 234 |56789
Rounddown

Roundup

Thedecisionaboutroundingup5isarbitrarybutworks.

Roundingtothenearest100,againlookatthelasttwodigits.
under50rounddown, 50andoverroundup
Numberscanberoundedtoanydegreeofaccuracytothenearest10,orthe
nearest10,000ormore.Thesizeofthenumbersyouaredealingandtheusesyou
aremakingofthemwilltellyouwhatsappropriate.
Countthenumberofzerosinthedegreeofaccuracyyouareusing.E.g.
10=1zero
1000=3zeros.
Lookatthatnumberofenddigitsinyournumber.
Lessthanhalfway,rounddown:e.g. 3425634000
Halfwayormore,roundup:e.g.348350

Roundingtothe

Roundingdownifthelast
digitsare

Roundingupifthelastdigits
are

1,2,3,4

5,6,7,8,9

Nearest100

1to49

50to99

Nearest1000

1to499

500to999

Nearest10,000

1to4999

5000to9,999

Nearest10

Preparedwithreferencetoandexamplesfrom:
Graham,L&Sargent, D.(1981) Countdowntomathematics volume1. London:PrenticeHall
Edexcel(2001) GCSEMathematics(IntermediateCourse). Oxford:Heinemann.

SignificantFigures

Whatdoessignificantmean?Significantmeansrelevant.
Youareoftenaskedtoroundnumbersto2significantfiguresor4significantfigures.
Forexample,iftherewere43,372peopleatafootballmatchmostpeoplewouldnormally
describethenumberinthecrowdto2significantfigures(43,000).
Thefirstsignificantnumberisthefirstnonzerodigitinthenumbercountingfromleftto
right.
e.g. 2.51,251000,0.0251
Allthesenumbershave3significantfigures(3s.f.)
The0sinthemiddleofnumberscanbesignificantfiguresbecausetheydenoteaplace
value.E.g.4024to3s.f.=4020
So

2.5103correctto3s.f.=2.51
251211correctto3s.f.=251000
0.0251012correctto3s.f.=0.0251

Calculatingnumberstosignificantfiguresissimilartoroundingbutyoumustmaintainthe
placevaluesoftheoriginalnumbersothatitstillrepresentsasimilarsizeofnumber.
Estimating

Whenmakingaroughestimatethenumbersyouareusingneedtobesimple,soyouwill
wanttoroundoff,butnotnecessarilytothenearest10,100,1000etc.
Froexample,beforeyouoffertobuyaround,youneedtoworkoutwhetheryouhave
enoughmoney.Whatdoyoudo?Youmakeanestimation.
Roughlyhowmuchis55%of2245?
50%of2200is1100
55%isabitmorethan50%and2245isabitmorethan2200so
55%of2245isabitmorethan1100.
Butwhatifyoumissakeystokeonthecalculator?
2245

*55=

123475

Aroughestimatewilltellyouthisiswrong.

Rounding,oftentothenearest10,100,1000.
Estimating,bycalculatingwiththeroundedfigures.
Itoftenmakessensetoroundallnumberstothesameorderofmagnitudei.e.alltothe
nearest100.

Preparedwithreferencetoandexamplesfrom:
Graham,L&Sargent, D.(1981) Countdowntomathematics volume1. London:PrenticeHall
Edexcel(2001) GCSEMathematics(IntermediateCourse). Oxford:Heinemann.

COMMONSENSE
Youvelearnedmoreandmorecomplicatedthingsmethodsofcalculation,rulesand
theories.Allyouhavetodoistakethenumbers,plugtheminandoutcomestheanswer.
Thinksensiblyaboutwhatyouarebeingasked,whichbitsofinformationareimportant
andhowtheyaretobeused.
Mathsisaformallanguage:Ithasconventionsandrules,itstermshaveveryprecise
meanings,anditdoesdescriberealsituations,eventhoughitmaynotseemlikeit.
READAQUESTIONCAREFULLYANDTHINKABOUTWHATITLOOKSLIKE

Unitsgivevitalinformationandcontext.

Youneedalloftheunitstobetellingthesamestory.Inthemetricsystemtheunitsfit
neatlyintoeachother,buttheycantbeignored.
Theareaofarectangleisgivenby

Area=length*width

Iflengthis4mandwidthis30cmwhatsthearea?
Whatunitswilltheanswerbeexpressedin?
So,lengthis4mandwidthis30cm
Whatdoesthislooklike?

30cm
1m

Theanswermustbelessthan4m
4m

Whatstheareaincmofasquare50cmby50cm?
Whatstheareainmofasquare50cmby50cm?
Whatdoesthislooklike?
Note: Squareofx<1Theanswerissmaller
Squarerootsofx<1Theanswerislarge
Makesureyoulookatandunderstandtheunits.

1m
1m

Ifyouaredoingastudyonthelengthofjavelinthrowsinmetresandyouhavearangeof
throwsfrom 0.003meitheryouhavesampledsomeunusualathletes,oryouvedone
somethingwrong.
Lookatthenumericalvaluethatyougetfromyourcalculationsandreferthembacktothe
question.Whataretheytellingyou?Dotheymakesense?
Preparedwithreferencetoandexamplesfrom:
Graham,L&Sargent, D.(1981) Countdowntomathematics volume1. London:PrenticeHall
Edexcel(2001) GCSEMathematics(IntermediateCourse). Oxford:Heinemann.

Questions:Estimationandcommonsense
1.Roundoffeachofthefollowing
Tothenearest
10:
Tothenearest
100:
Tothenearest
1000:

a)43

b)204

c)96

d)1005

e)157

f)49

g)1132

h)31,350

i)4873

j)6,895,481

2. Writethesetothenumberofsignificantfiguresgiveninthebrackets:
a)0.09812(2s.f.)
d)3125.4(2s.f.)

b)54.875(4s.f.)
e)5942.7(1s.f.)

c)7.6542(1s.f.)
f)52.973(3s.f.)

3.EstimationReview
Checkthefollowingcalculationstoseeiftheyarelikelytobecorrect.Howcanyoutell?
(a)602589=1113
(b)1543+804=5947
(c)1224322635212=589110
(d)875879673245=22634

4.EstimationQuiz
Estimationisakeyelementtoeverydaylife:
Howlongwillittaketogettocollege?
HowmuchmoneydoIneedtotakeoutwithme?
Howlongwillmystudentloanlast?
HowmuchtimewillIspendstudying?
Estimateanswersforthefollowing:
a. Videotapescost2each,youvegot5tospend.Howmanycanyoubuy?
b. Abookcosts26.99,butyoucangeta15%discount.Howmuchwillitcostyou?
c. Daveearns1,280permonth.Makearoughestimateofhowmuchheearnsper
year.
d. Youbuyaroundofdrinksfor8peopleincludingyourself.Howmuchapproximately
willitcost(assumeeveryoneisboughtapint)?
e. Howmuchfluidwillyoudrinkinyourlifetime?Howmanybathtubswouldthisfill?
(Abathtubhasacapacityofapproximately120litres).
f. Estimatetheareaofastripofgrassmeasuring17mby12m.
g. Ifyouborrow500onApril1st andafurther300onOctober1st onthe
understandingthatyourepaythewholeamountwithinterestat10%perannumat
theendoftheyear.HowmuchdoyouoweonDecember31st?
h. Threepartnersinvestedinabusiness.Aputin333for3months,B400for5
monthsandC1500for2months.Profitswere600.Howshouldtheybe
divided?
Preparedwithreferencetoandexamplesfrom:
Graham,L&Sargent, D.(1981) Countdowntomathematics volume1. London:PrenticeHall
Edexcel(2001) GCSEMathematics(IntermediateCourse). Oxford:Heinemann.

QuestionAnswers
1.Roundoffeachofthefollowing
Tothenearest
10:
Tothenearest
100:
Tothenearest
1000:

a)40

b)200

c)100

d)1010

e)160

f)00

g)1100

h)31,400

i)5000

j)6,896,000

2. Writethesetothenumberofsignificantfiguresgiveninthebrackets:
a)0.098(2s.f.)
d)3100(2s.f.)

b)54.88(4s.f.)
e)6000(1s.f.)

c)8(1s.f.)
f)53.0(3s.f.)

3. a)600590=10not1110
x
b)1500+800=2300not5900
x
c)1200000600000=600000
600000+2400035000=589000likelytobecorrect
d)876000673000=203000not23000.
x
4.
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)

2
27/10=2.7015%discount=2.70+1.35=4
Totalcost=284=24
1300x10=13000+(2x1300)=15600(abitmorethanrealamount)
8x2=16,8x2.50=20
Total=18(approx)
2litresx400=800litresperyear
800x80=800x100(800x10x2)=8000016000=64000litres
Numberofbaths=64000/100=640+abitmore750bathtubs
f) 17x10=170metressquare+abitmore.
g) 7.5%of500 50=10%38=7.5%
2.5%of3003=1%8=2.5%
Total=46+300+500=845
h) A3333months
B4005months
C1500for2months
Howmuchmoneyifequivalenttoonlyinvestingforonemontheach
A=1000
B=2000
C=3000
Ifprofitsof600
A=100
B=200
C=300

Preparedwithreferencetoandexamplesfrom:
Graham,L&Sargent, D.(1981) Countdowntomathematics volume1. London:PrenticeHall
Edexcel(2001) GCSEMathematics(IntermediateCourse). Oxford:Heinemann.