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Chemistry LibreTexts

Unit 0: Foundations

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    Quantitative descriptions in chemistry require familiarity with the International System of Units and the rules for representing values and units. Learners may recognize much of the material presented in this unit and should aim to increase their proficiency. The learning objectives of this unit are:

    Unit Topic Learning Objectives


    1. S.I. unit prefixes
    2. Unit conversions
    3. Uncertainty and significant figures
    4. Dimensional Analysis
    1. Convert between S.I. unit prefixes
    2. Convert between units
    3. Calculate the uncertainty in a result and express it using the correct number of significant figures
    4. Verify an answer using dimensional analysis

    • 0.1: Units of Measurement
    • 0.2: Uncertainty in Measurement
      Measurements may be accurate, meaning that the measured value is the same as the true value; they may be precise, meaning that multiple measurements give nearly identical values (i.e., reproducible results); they may be both accurate and precise; or they may be neither accurate nor precise. The goal of scientists is to obtain measured values that are both accurate and precise.
    • 0.3: Significant Figures
      The numerical values we deal with in science represent measurements whose values are never known exactly. Our pocket-calculators or computers don't know this; they treat the numbers we punch into them as "pure" mathematical entities, with the result that the operations of arithmetic frequently yield answers that are physically ridiculous even though mathematically correct. The purpose of this unit is to help you understand why this happens, and to show you what to do about it.
    • 0.4: Dimensional Analysis
      Dimensional analysis is used in numerical calculations, and in converting units. It can help us identify whether an equation is set up correctly (i.e. the resulting units should be as expected). Units are treated similarly to the associated numerical values, i.e., if a variable in an equation is supposed to be squared, then the associated dimensions are squared, etc.
    • 0.E: Exercises

    Unit 0: Foundations is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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