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significant digits

noun, Mathematics
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 of significant digits
1920-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for significant figures
  • Apparently the author is unfamiliar with the concept of the appropriate number of significant figures.
  • The agreement applies to many significant figures-the kind of accuracy that previously one had only in astronomy.
  • Both are significant figures within the populist tea-party movement.
  • We fight to the pain over whether to round to two or three significant figures as freshmen.
  • The scientific significance does not seem to reflect the significant figures.
  • In this lesson, students share opinions about significant figures in music history.
  • The number of significant figures for production volumes was limited by the number of significant figures in the data sources.
  • All results shall be transcribed to the forms from the raw data to the appropriate number of significant figures.
  • Throughout the report the data are expressed with an unreasonable and inconsistent number of significant figures.
British Dictionary definitions for significant figures

significant figures

plural noun
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
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 figures in Science
significant digits
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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