Significant Digits

Everyone who has taken a first year chemistry class has learned that significant digits (aka “significant figures” or “sig figs”) indicate the precision of a measurement. The basic rule is that you save all measurement digits you are certain about plus one more that you estimate. Unfortunately, computers don’t know anything about significant digits. Developers creating data systems for scientific measurements should always include a rounding step as part of any data output. Not embracing significant digits can have … uhm … “significant” consequences.

Continue reading