Precision is usually understood as the number or significant figures in some experiment. Accuracy is the difference between the best measurement and the real value.

How are precision and accuracy determined from a given experiment? Or equivalently, how are systematical errors and statistical errors calculated. Statistical errors are usually treated approaching "the normal distribution". But I am not sure how systematics are determined...Perhaps making some "pattern" measurements?


the most precise instruments available to us must be calibrated before they can be accurate. ie, used on values we assume are already known.

the difference between the mean of measured values and that of the actual value is the systematic error, also known as the offset in calibration.

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  • $\begingroup$ How is the "actual value" determined?What if the "actual value" is NOT known? Does it mean there is no systematical error? $\endgroup$ – riemannium Sep 10 '13 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ if you go down to the fundamentals: what is a kilogram, second or meter...these are all DEFINED not measured values. In practice systematic error can be completely removed via calibration. $\endgroup$ – gregsan Sep 10 '13 at 14:13

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