Notation

Significant digits

All digits in a number are significant except

In counted numbers like twelve eggs or numbers defined as equalities such as `1\ "km" = 1000\ "m"`, the number of significant digits is infinite.

When you add or subtract numbers, the answer should have no more decimal places than the given value with the fewest. When you do anything else, the answer should have no more significant digits than the given value with the fewest.

Scientific notation

We use scientific notation for small numbers and big numbers. It is also useful for making it very clear how many significant digits a number has. For example, we would assume that 100 has one significant digit. To show that there are three, you have to use 1.00 × 102.

Metric prefixes

Make sure you remember all the metric prefixes. Also, remember that you can multiply by 3.6 to convert a speed from m/s to km/h (and divide to go the other way).

Prefix Factor
G 109
M 106
k 103
h 102
da 101
100
d 10−1
c 10−2
m 10−3
μ 10−6
n 10−9