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Someone can explain me what's the rule behind the correct expression of a quantity $K$ with its error $\Delta K$ as $K \pm \Delta K$? They must have the same number of significant figures? Or the error should have in general 1-2 significant figures? For example, if I have:

$$K = 8510.33 \pm 56.97~.$$ This expression is uncorrect? Maybe should be expressed as: $$K= 8510 \pm 57~? $$

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Error is usually express as 1 or 2 significant figures.

4 significant figures are too many, because it is unreasonable to think the error could be quantified to such a degree.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the general use is simply to express the error with 1-2 significant figures and therefore crop the quantity to the same floating point? $\endgroup$ – Brontolo May 16 '14 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ yes. Some teachers/instructors only want to see 1 digit, like: owlnet.rice.edu/~labgroup/pdf/Error_analysis.htm Some want to see 1 digit, unless the digit is a "1" or a "2", in which case they want to see two digits. Published results often use two digits, sometimes use only one. Any more than two digits is too many. $\endgroup$ – DavePhD May 16 '14 at 16:18

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