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significant digits

noun, Mathematics
1.
all the nonzero digits of a number and the zeros that are included between them or that are final zeros and signify accuracy:
The significant digits of 0.01230 are 1, 2, 3, and the final 0, which signifies accuracy to five places.
Also called significant figures.
Origin
1920-1925
1920-25
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for significant digits
  • Also, you double the number of significant digits after every iteration instead of getting only one new digit as in long division.
  • Remember to consider significant digits in your use of the answer.
  • Calculations shall be rounded off to the same number of significant digits as the previous step.
  • In all conversions, the number of significant digits retained should be such that accuracy is neither sacrificed nor exaggerated.
  • Any queries involving constants with no more than dd significant digits will be answered precisely with this index.
  • Note: the number of significant digits shown is larger than would normally be reported.
  • Each number in the range should not include more than six significant digits.
  • Round off calculations to the same number of significant digits as the previous step.
British Dictionary definitions for significant digits

significant figures

plural noun
1.
the figures of a number that express a magnitude to a specified degree of accuracy, rounding up or down the final figure: 3.141 59 to four significant figures is 3.142
2.
the number of such figures: 3.142 has four significant figures Compare decimal place (sense 2)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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significant digits in Science
significant digits
  (sĭg-nĭf'ĭ-kənt)   
The digits in a decimal number that are warranted by the accuracy of the means of measurement. Significant digits are all the numbers beginning with the leftmost nonzero digit, or beginning with the first digit after the decimal point if there are no nonzero digits to the left of the decimal point, and extending to the right. For example, 302, 3.20, and 0.023 all have three significant digits.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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