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0.5: Accuracy and Precision

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Mechanical Engineering

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Accuracy and Precision

0.5: Accuracy and Precision

Scientists typically make repeated measurements of a quantity to ensure the quality of their findings and to evaluate both the precision and the accuracy of their results. Measurements are said to be precise if they yield very similar results when repeated in the same manner. A measurement is considered accurate if it yields a result that is very close to the true or the accepted value. Precise values agree with each other; accurate values agree with a true value.  Highly accurate measurements tend to be precise, too. However, highly precise measurements may not necessarily be accurate. For example, an improperly calibrated thermometer or a faulty weighing balance may give precise readings that are inaccurate.

This text is adapted from Openstax, Chemistry 2e, Section 1.5: Measurement Uncertainty, Accuracy, and Precision.


Accuracy And Precision Are Two Important Concepts In Measurement Statistics And Scientific Research. While They Are Often Used Interchangeably They Have Distinct Meanings And Implications. Accuracy Refers To How Close A Measurement Or Result Is To The True Or Accepted Value. It Is A Measure Of How Well A Tool Process Or Measurement System Reflects The Actual Quantity Being Measured. High Accuracy Means That The Results Are Very Close To The True Value. Precision On The Other Hand Refers To How Reproducible Or Consistent A Set Of Measurements Or Results Are. It Is A Measure Of The Spread Or Variability In A Set Of Repeated Measurements. High Precision Means That The Results Are Very Consistent And Have Little Variation. It Is Possible For A Measurement Or Result To Be Precise But Not Accurate Or Accurate But Not Precise. For Example If You Are Trying To Measure The Weight Of An Object A Scale That Consistently Reads 5 Grams Higher Than The True Weight Would Be Precise But N

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