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CHAPTER 4

Engineering Estimations and


Approximations
SITI MARDINI HASHIM
mardinih@ppinang.uitm.edu.my
ROOM 3.26

Chapter Outline
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Significant Digits
4.3 Accuracy and Precision
4.4 Types of Errors and Error Analysis
4.5 Engineering Estimations

4.1 Introduction
Engineers are problem solvers
Engineers design to satisfy a need and improve the living
standard
Example; water is hot
Hot for bath?
Hot for drinking?
Too hot, not very hot, etc?

Engineers make measurements of a vast array of


physical quantities pertaining to product or system and
environment.
Skill in making and interpreting
measurements is an essential element

Objectives
Learn the differences in:
Accuracy/precision,
Random/systematic error,
Uncertainty/error
Compute true, fractional, and percent error
Use proper number of significant figures to report
work

4.1 Numbers &


Significant Digits

Real and Integer Values

Real (exact or approximate) numbers represent continuous


quantities, e.g., length of rod, mass of rock, velocity of a
vehicle, etc. All type of numbers.

L
Integer (exact) numbers represent discrete quantities, e.g.,
number of marbles, number of people, number of
computers, etc. For example, 65, 7, and 756 are

integers; 1.6 and 1 are not integers.

Significant Digits

Significant digit or Significant figures is defined as any digit


used in writing a number, except:
those zeros that are used only for location of the decimal
point or
those zeros that do not have any nonzero digit on their left.
Significant figures are extremely important when reporting a
numerical value.
The number of significant figures used indicates the
confidence (certainty) of that value.

Significant Digits

How many?
Number known to:

Number of sig. figures

1 part per 10

1 part per 100

1 part per 1000

1 part per 10000

etc.

etc.

Significant Digits

A significant figure is an accurate digit although the last digit


is accepted to have some error.
If length = 7.58 cm
exact

The number of significant figures does not include zeros


required to place decimal points.

Significant Digits

Significant digits allow us to systematically


express a degree of confidence in a number.
A significant digit or figure is any digit used in a
number except:

Zeros that are used to locate the decimal point, such


as:
0.05
0.0003
0.002300
Zeros that do not have any nonzero digits on their
left, such as:
0.5
0.515
0.25

4.2 Accuracy and Precision

Accuracy

Accuracy - nearness to the correct value.

Example:
A chemistry instructor makes a 5.00% sugar
solution. Using a sugar test, a team of students
analyzes the solution and reports the following
results:
Student
Result
A
5.03%
B
4.96%
C
2.98%

Precision
Precision - repeatability of the measurement
indicates scatter in the data
Example:
A chemistry instructor makes a 5.00% sugar solution.
Using a sugar assay, a team of students analyzes the
solution in triplicate and reports the following results:
Students
Results
A
5.03%, 4.97%, 5.07%
B
4.49%, 5.52%, 5.01%
C
2.98%, 7.98%, 9.23%

Precision vs. Accuracy

Measurements
Measurements can be reported as a value plus or
minus a number

Example;
32.30.2
32.3, 32.1 and 32.5 are acceptable
220 oF with 1%
Accuracy 2.2 oF

4.4 Errors

Errors

Error is the difference between a measured or


calculated (reported) value and the true value.
Engineers recognize that errors are present in
their professional lives and must be able to:
1. Identify types of errors
2. Numerically express the magnitude of errors
3. Recognize the confidence that may be
placed in a printed number

Simple Error Analysis

Suppose a rod of unknown length is measured


with a standard meter stick.
Spend 5 minutes as a team completing this
exercise:
What can be said about the length of the rod is
reported as:
7 to 8 cm
7.5 to 7.6 cm
7.57 to 7.59 cm?

Systematic Errors

Systematic Errors - errors that can be


recognized to some regular outside
occurrence.
Engineers must be aware of the presence of
systematic errors and eliminate those possible
and try to calculate and correct for those
remaining.

The error associated with systematic errors can


be corrected if the source and magnitude are
known.

Repeating measurements will not eliminate


or reduce systematic errors.

Example of Systematic Errors


Measuring 1200 m with 25 m steel tape
If the tape is not exactly 25.000m, there will be
systematic errors 48 times due to :
Temperature effect;
Tension difference when measuring tapes
Smoothness of the surface can be different

Random Errors

Accidental (Random) Errors - errors that occur in a


random nature.
The presence of accidental errors is evident by the
scatter in measured data.
It is impossible to predict the magnitude and sign of
the accidental error present in any one measurement.
Repeating measurements and averaging the results
will reduce the random error in the average.

Refinement of the apparatus and care in


its use can reduce the magnitude of error
Awareness of the problem, knowledge of
the degree of precision of the equipment,
skill with measurement procedures, and
proficiency in the use of statistics allow us
to estimate the magnitude of error

Definitions

There are three ways to numerically describe


error:

1. True error = Reported value - True value


2. Fractional error = True error / True value
3. Percent error = Fractional error * 100%

Example:
Calculate the true error, fractional error and
percent error for:
Reported Value

Correct Value

Distance

Distance

feet

feet

109

100

1050

1000

45

50

17

20

4.5 Approximations

Approximation
Engineers strive for high-level precision
Also, it is important to be aware of an acceptable
precision and the time and cost of attaining it
Engineers are expected to make an approximation
to the solution before time and funds invested to
increase accuracy
Engineers rely on their basic understanding of the
problem under discussion coupled with their
previous experience

Approximation
The accuracy of these estimates depends on:
1. Consequences/cost of error,
2. Available reference materials,
3. Time allotted for estimate,
4. Experience with similar problems.

Example
Estimate the number of paper
clips that will fit in a box 16cm by
10cm by 12cm
(1 paper clip = 1.5cm by 1cm by 0.2cm)
1 minutes solution