RE: Rounding figures?

Subject: RE: Rounding figures?
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 14:40:40 -0500

Geoff sez:

> So instead, we "unround" them
> and present numbers with more digits than the reader strictly
> needs, but
> that produce the right calculation results.

> user ("hey, the
> inputs say 2+2 but the answer is 5!") and adds the need for readers to
> understand the plumbing of the software, when all they're
> really interested
> in is the results of the calculation. Adding that complexity
> when you could
> avoid it easily by fixing how the numbers are displayed
> strikes me as a bad
> idea.

Um, always be careful with this kind of thing.
If you pad your numbers out to x-many decimal places,
to make all the columns line up and to make the arithmetic
appear neater, you may be suggesting a level of precision
that is not valid. That is, your measuring tools/methods may
not have been capable of that degree of precision.

On the other hand, if you mix precision... where some
numbers are taken to three decimal places and others
to only one place, you are implying a level of precision in
any calculated results that probably does not exist
in the data. Your results should always be shown to
the coarsest resolution among all the numbers that
went into the calculations. If 59 numbers were 3-digit
precise, and one number was one-digit precise, then
your calculated results are valid only to one digit.



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