# errors - Propagating Uncertainties Chemistry BC3368y Every...

This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

Propagating Uncertainties Chemistry BC3368y Every experimental quantity x has associated with it an uncertainty If the quantity is reported as x ± Δ x , then Δ x is the absolute uncertainty Absolute uncertainties have the same units as x. Absolute uncertainties are generally written with one non-zero digit, with x rounded to the same decimal place. Δ x/x is called the relative uncertainty . It is dimensionless. Where does Δ x come from? Sometimes simple estimation, sometimes it is the standard deviation from a series of replicate determinations. This is often denoted σ x . When a quantity z is the result of a calculation involving one or more quantities that have uncertainties, then the uncertainty of the result must be calculated by suitable propagation. In labs in General Chemistry (BC2001x) and in Quantitative Techniques (BC3340y) you were often told to use a worst-case scenario for error (or uncertainty) propagation: you add them. The important rules you learned then were the following: When adding or subtracting, the absolute uncertainty of the result is the sum of the absolute uncertainties of the terms: If z = x + y, then Δ z = Δ x + Δ y When multiplying or dividing, the relative uncertainty of the result is the sum of the relative uncertainties of the terms: If z = x y, then ( Δ z/z) = ( Δ x/x) + ( Δ y/y) A corollary of the latter is that if you multiply by an exact constant, the relative uncertainty is unchanged: if z = ax , where a is a constant, then ( Δ z/z) = ( Δ x/x) because Δ a = 0. It follows that Δ z = z ( Δ x/x) = (a x) Δ x/x = a Δ x. In other words, the absolute uncertainty is multiplied by the same constant:

This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

## This note was uploaded on 09/02/2010 for the course PHYS MERR1 taught by Professor Carter during the Spring '10 term at UMass (Amherst).

### Page1 / 3

errors - Propagating Uncertainties Chemistry BC3368y Every...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document
Ask a homework question - tutors are online