Physics307L F09:Schedule/Week 4 agenda/Terminology/Errors

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We'll use "error" and "uncertainty" interchangeably (as w/ Taylor)

Wikipedia article on Observational Error

From wikipedia

Observational error is the difference between a measured value of quantity and its "true value."

(not a "mistake")
You almost never know the true value

Systematic error is a non-random bias in the measurements

(e.g., a mis-calibrated scale)

Random error is un-biased deviations from the "true value"

An experimentalist's goals are to (A) identify and reduce systematic error as much as possible and (B) characterize random error