significant figures


General Science

  • plural noun the figures in a decimal number that express accuracy, beginning with the first non-zero figure on the left and ending with the figure on the right


  • The precision with which a number is expressed, based on the number of digits that are known with a given degree of confidence. For instance, 3.141592 is pi expressed to seven significant digits, with the last digit being rounded. Each of the following has four significant digits: 5,016, 7.348 × 106, 0.003502, and 142.100. When performing mathematical calculations, such as addition or division, the precision, in significant digits, of the final answer can be no greater than that of the least accurate figure. Also called significant digits.
  • synonymsignificant digits