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GENERAL APPENDIXES EXPERIMENTAL ERRORS AND ERROR ANALYSIS •DEFINITIONS: 1. Indeterminate error: The random scatter in measured values obtained when we measure something several times. No matter how careful we are or how good our equipment is, every measurement method has some indeterminate error. Indeterminate error is also loosely known as the experimental uncertainty of a measurement. Measured values are to be quoted as . The Greek letter s is pronounced "sigma" and it refers to the "standard deviation" of the measurement. 2. Mean: Also called the X average value . The average of N repeated measurements of the quantity x is often abbreviated as . It is calculated from the familiar formula: x ± ! x x = i = 1 N ! This just means we add together all the measured values x i , and then divide by the number of measurements. 3. Determinate error: Also called systematic error. The difference between the average of our repeated measurements of something, and its` "true" value. This represents a bias in the measurement method. Nearly all measurement methods have some determinate error - the more accurate the method, the smaller the determinate error. 4. Frequency distribution histogram: Also called a histogram. A graph with the x axis divided into bins (intervals) of values for the repeated measurements we make, and the y axis showing the number of times the measured value fell in each bin. A bin labeled 5.0-5.2 by convention contains That is, the value 5.2 exactly does not fall in the bin, but rather in the bin 5.0-5.2. Looking at a frequency
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