# Interpreting Numbers

Jun 17th, 2015
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Two times zero is still zero and half of infinity is still infinity. If you want to develop good engineering judgment you need to understand the profound meaning of this perspective on zero and infinity. When dealing with very small numbers, it makes no difference in the greater scheme of things whether the number is doubled or not.

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Section 1.1 - Interpreting Numbers Two times zero is still zero and half of infinity is still infinity. If you want to develop good engineering judgment you need to understand the profound meaning of this perspective on zero and infinity. When dealing with very small numbers, it makes no difference in the greater scheme of things whether the number is doubled or not. The number will still be a small number and needs to be interpreted that way. Similarly when dealing with large numbers, even if you halve the number you still are left with a large number. For all numbers in between you can use relative comparisons , however, for small and large numbers, one needs to understand that relative comparisons may not hold true. You are probably confused as to what defines a really large and small number. Relative does not have any absolute number interpretation. Relative comparison only has meaning in relation to what you are comparing to. You have to use engineering judgment to see what range most numbers fall within. For example, a transportation engineer measuring average traffic flow on a highway will see most speeds fall within 45-65 mph. The engineer only needs to focus on speeds in that range and ignore the really small speeds close to zero. The slowest car in one highway may be 30 mph and in another highway could be 10 mph. This does not mean the first highway has a 300% higher average speed of slow cars. It means both those speeds are well below the average speed and cann

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