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From: email@example.com [mailto:phys-l-
firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of John Denker
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 8:44 AM
To: Forum for Physics Educators
Subject: Re: [Phys-l] Sig figs
On 10/14/2010 09:12 AM, Rauber, Joel wrote:
John — I am curious as to your opinions regarding the Journal of
article that you provided us. Do you agree whole heartedly with the
proposal of what to teach in the article? Agree with some
reservations? Would change the proposal? Etc.
Proposal? What proposal? I do not find that word in the article
anywhere. As to roundoff methods, several are considered, all of
which are found wanting.
As to the more general question, as is usually the case, the article
makes several points, some of which I agree with more than others.
*) I agree that the sig figs rules one finds in the textbooks are
*) I agree that students often do figure this out, sometimes in
the first week of class, sometimes later.
*) I agree that this undermines the relationship of trust between
student and teacher.
*) I agree that the students sometimes get rather snarky about it.
*) As for "proposals", I would fault the article for not providing
specific, constructive proposals for handling the underlying issues
-- representation of uncertainty
-- propagation of uncertainty
If that doesn't answer the question, please ask a more specific
Also, if you really want to know what I think about the subject, you can
Forum for Physics Educators