So, first off, I have to say that I love this site so far. I am kind of struggling with the issues that arise from rounding errors. I am familiar with significant figures, but I am wondering if there is a better rule of thumb. Normally I don't round until I get the final answer, but I got problem #7 wrong. On this problem, I did all of the steps correctly, but I rounded up the times t1 and t2 to 2 sig figs and ended up getting 62 km/h. Is there anything I should know that might be helpful as I prepare for tests and future problem sets?
Thanks!

Hi brysongrondel, thank you very much for the nice feedback, and your question. The general idea is to avoid rounding until the final answer. Rounding values before a final answer is called intermediate rounding error, and causes the final answer to differ as a result of the rounding. So, generally, avoid rounding until the end. It's a topic that calls for a bit of patience since most numbers need rounding eventually, and the answer you're comparing to may have chosen a different number of digits than you, resulting in a different answer than what you obtained despite your following the best practice of keeping "lots" of digits until the end. Different people could have different opinions on what "lots" means. I would say that two additional digits, beyond those that are significant , should be kept with intermediate numbers.
Hope that helps,
Mr. Dychko

## Comments

So, first off, I have to say that I love this site so far. I am kind of struggling with the issues that arise from rounding errors. I am familiar with significant figures, but I am wondering if there is a better rule of thumb. Normally I don't round until I get the final answer, but I got problem #7 wrong. On this problem, I did all of the steps correctly, but I rounded up the times t1 and t2 to 2 sig figs and ended up getting 62 km/h. Is there anything I should know that might be helpful as I prepare for tests and future problem sets?

Thanks!

Hi brysongrondel, thank you very much for the nice feedback, and your question. The general idea is to avoid rounding until the final answer. Rounding values before a final answer is called

intermediate rounding error, and causes the final answer to differ as a result of the rounding. So, generally, avoid rounding until the end. It's a topic that calls for a bit of patience since most numbers need rounding eventually, and the answer you're comparing to may have chosen a different number of digits than you, resulting in a different answer than what you obtained despite your following the best practice of keeping "lots" of digits until the end. Different people could have different opinions on what "lots" means. I would say thattwo additional digits, beyond those that are significant, should be kept with intermediate numbers.Hope that helps,

Mr. Dychko