Error Analysis
Instrumentation and Product Testing
1. Basic Concept
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
True value, X
T
Mean of measurement
output, X
Variations, i.e.
random error
Systematic error = X
X
T
Repeatability (that describes
precision) Standard deviation of
measurement data
Systematic error: Shift in the mean value
Random error: Standard deviation
Repeat measuring the same physical quality a number of time,
we shall obtain the following:
2. Random errors
They are represented by repeatability described in earlier lectures.
Repeatability (R) is numerically equal to the half range random
uncertainty (U
r
) of the measurement.
For normal distribution (n), at 95%
confidence level
x mean, population
1.96o +1.96o
Repeatability, R = Zo
=1.96o
z
x mean, population
For normal distribution (n), at o% confidence
level
 Z
o
o + Z
o
o
Repeatability, R = Z
o
o
z
To estimate the population standard deviation from the sample
deviation, say, n = 10 or n = 20, we shall use the Students t
distribution. The repeatability may be expressed as
Repeatability, R = Z
o
o
= t s
where the value of t can be found from the t distribution table based on
the sample size n and the confidence level o,
s is usually referred to as the sample standard deviation.
( )
1
1
2
=
=
n
x x
s
n
i
Example. A balance is calibrated against a standard
mass of 250.0g. The difference in grams from the
250.0g scale reading were determined as
+10.5, 8.5, +9.5, +9.0, 10.0, +9.0, 9.5, +10.0,
+10.0 and 8.0
Find the repeatability R of the balance at 95%
confidence level.
You have to use a Students t distribution table to
determine the repeatability.
Probability = (1 o)/2 = 0.025,
Degree of freedom = (n 1) = 9.
t = 2.262
Apply the formula,
( )
1
1
2
=
=
n
x x
s
n
i
s = 9.66
The repeatability,
R = t s = 21.85g.
By calculating the mean of the differences (2.2g),
it is noted that the mean value lies at
250.0 + 2.2 = 252.2g
A positive bias (systematic error) of 2.2g, which
should be adjusted to zero.
Alternatively, the calculation can be conducted by using MS Excel.
We can use MicroSoft Excel to determine repeatability
Quite often, the repeatability of an instrument varies from
time to time by a considerable amount. This does not
necessarily indicate that the instrument is faulty but rather
that repeatability is a somewhat variable quantity.
Some authorities advocate that three repeatability tests be
carried out on three similar but not identical specimens in
quick succession. If the ratio between the highest and
lowest value is not greater than 2:1, then the root mean
square value of the three results should be regarded as the
repeatability of the instrument.
If the ratio obtained is greater than 2, then the instrument
should be examined for faults, and on rectification further
tests should be made.
Example. Three repeatability tests were carried out on the
balance introduced in last example. The results obtained
were as follows:
R
1
= 22g, R
2
= 24g, and R
3
= 28g
Find the repeatability of the balance.
Solution:
R
3
/ R
1
= 28/22 = 1.27 < 2
79 . 24
3
28 24 22
3
2 2 2 2
3
2
2
2
1 1
2
. . .
=
+ +
=
+ +
= =
=
R R R
n
R
R
n
i
i
s m r
Rounding up, the repeatability, R
r.m.s.
= 25
Random errors can largely be eliminated by calculating the mean of
the measurements,
since in statistical analysis of data
where is the standard deviation of the sample mean, o is the
standard deviation of the population, and n is the sample size (i.e.
number of repeated measurements for the same measurand). The
standard error of the mean is usually expressed by .
n
x
x
i
=
n
x
o
o =
x
o
x
o
For example, a set of length measurements with n = 20, =
18.18mm, and o = 0.318mm,
The length can be expressed as
18.18 0.07 mm (for 68% confident limit)
18.18 0.14 mm (for 95% confident limit)
It should be noted that the sample standard deviation s is used as an
estimator of the standard deviation of the population o in some
textbooks for the calculation of .
x
mm
x
071 . 0
20
318 . 0
= = o
x
o
3. Error reduction using intelligent instruments
It also includes
 a microcomputer, and
 one or more transducers (secondary transducers)
The secondary transducers monitor the environmental conditions
(modifying inputs). By reading the outputs of the primary
transducer and the secondary transducers, the microcomputer
processes the signals based on a preloaded programme.
It can be programmed to take a succession of measurements of a
quantity within a short period of time (sampling frequency)
1
and
perform statistical calculations on the readings before displaying an
output measurement. This is valid for reducing random errors.
The ability of intelligent instruments to reduce systematic errors
requires the following preconditions be satisfied:
The physical mechanism by which a measurement transducer
is affected by ambient condition changes must be fully
understood and all physical quantities which affect the
transducer output must be identified.
The effect of each ambient variable on the output
characteristic of the measurement transducer must be
quantified.
Suitable secondary transducers for monitoring the value of all
relevant ambient variables must be available for input to the
intelligent instrument.
The accuracy of a measurement system is a function of its ability
to indicate the true value of the measured quantity under specific
conditions of use and at a defined level of confidence.
The accuracy A is expressed by
where R is the instrument repeatability and U
s
is the systematic
error.
2 2
s
U R A + + =
4. Calculations of accuracy and errors
4.1 Accuracy of a measuring instrument
Systematic Error
Random Error
( Zo)
Example. The systematic error of a balance is estimated to be 5g
and the random error of its measurements is 25g. State the
repeatability and calculate the accuracy of the instrument.
Solution:
Repeatability, R = U
r
= 25g
Systematic error, U
s
= 5g
g A 495 . 25 5 25 , Accuracy
2 2
= + + =
As the systematic error and the repeatability are both stated in grams,
the accuracy of the instrument is 26g.
It is usual to express the accuracy in terms of its full scale deflection
(f.s.d.).
Accuracy = f.s.d.
% 26 . 0 % 100
10 10
26
3
=


.

\

A
c
c
= A
2
i
i
x
x
M
M
( ) ( ) W 14 . 14 10 10
2 2
2 2
~ + = A + A = A I E E I P
% 4 . 1 % 100
1000
14 . 14
~ ~
A
P
P
Example. The resistance of a certain size of copper wire is given as
where
R
0
= 6O 0.3% is the resistance at 20C
o = 0.004C
1
1% is the temperature coefficient of resistance
T = 30 1C is the temperature of the wire
Calculate the resistance of the wire and its uncertainty.
Solution:
The nominal resistance is
( )   20 1
0
+ = T R R o
( )   O = + = 24 . 6 20 30 004 . 0 1 6 R
To determine the uncertainty, the partial differentiation is
performed:
The uncertainty of each component is:
( ) ( ) 04 . 1 20 30 004 . 0 1 20 1
0
= + = + =
c
c
T
R
R
o
( ) ( ) 60 20 30 6 20
0
= = =
c
c
T R
R
o
024 . 0 004 . 0 6
0
= = =
c
c
o R
T
R
O = = A 018 . 0
100
3 . 0
6
0
R
1 6
10 40
100
1
004 . 0
= = A C o
C T = A 1
Thus, the uncertainty in the resistance is:
It can be noted that the two components and
predominate the value of AR. For accuracy improvement, these
two terms must be of main concern.
( ) ( ) ( )
2
2
6
2
1 024 . 0 10 40 60 018 . 0 04 . 1 + + = A
R
( ) ( ) ( )
2
3
2
3
2
3
10 24 10 4 . 2 10 72 . 18
+ + = AR
O ~ A
3
10 53 . 30 R
% 49 . 0 % 100
24 . 6
10 53 . 30
3
~
~
A
R
R
0
0
R
R
R
A
c
c
T
T
R
A
c
c
Thank you