What is Precision? | Definition, Examples, Pros and Cons

Quantitative techniques often comprise of measurements as without measurements, the external world cannot be comprehended. Measurements, on the other hand, require instruments that can provide a quantity. However, the issue with any of such tools is that they have no surety. That is, they are characterised by uncertainty, also called error.

To evaluate the level of uncertainty of measurement, two essential factors are considered. Precision is one of them. It differs from accuracy, the other factor in assessing data measurement insofar as the late explains how close or far a particular measurement is from the standard or accepted value.

In contrast to that, Precision describes the proximity between two or measurements irrespective of how close they are to the accepted or expected value. Thus, precision measurements may or may not be accurate, that is, close to the accepted value.

Understanding Precision

In mathematics, science and engineering, Precision is used to find out the absolute exactness of the measurement. Accordingly, two or more factors or measurements are employed in an experiment to observe the measurement’s consistency and reliability. That is to say, Precision inspects how many times a particular process or instrument repeats the same measurement value.

As it follows from the above discussion, unlike accuracy, which observes a measurement’s veracity, Precision evaluates a measurement’s reproducibility. The closer the value of two or more measurements will be, the more will be the Precision of the measurement.

Examples of Precision

To explain the concept of Precision, one can take the example of the value of ‘pi,’ that is, 3.142857143. In this case:

  1. The value 3.14 will be called accurate instead of precise as it is the closest number to the real value of ‘pi.’
  2. The value 1.14234567890987654321, on the other hand, will be called precise but not accurate. It is ‘precise’ because it gives much more information, but it is not accurate as it is far from the actual value of ‘pi.’
  3. The value that will exhibit both accuracy and Precision is the value 3.142857143, that is, the real value of ‘pi.’

Another example to explain Precision can be of the basketball game. Here, if a player throws the ball on the same side of the basket but misses it every time, his throw is said to have a high Precision level. In this situation, the player’s aim may prove to be far from the basket. But because the ball falls in the same direction every time, the player’s throw is said to be precise.

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The concept of Precision may become further clear with the example of a dart game.

Advantages of Precision

It is more useful to use a precise instrument of measurement than an imprecise but accurate one. It is because:

  1. Precision makes adjustment of error more straightforward.
  2. The determination of an instrument’s quality is better with Precision than accuracy.

Disadvantages of Precision

Some of the inherent limitations include:

  1. Recurring measurements cannot improve Precision.
  2. Precision cannot be determined with a single experiment. Multiple factors and investigations are required to evaluate an instrument’s Precision.

References

  1. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jsr/2/1/article-p35.xml
  2. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpa2/26/2/26_2_253/_article/-char/ja/
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