Measurements, Irregular - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics

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Measuring Irregular Shapes

Irregular shapes can be measured with a technique called discrete approximation, a powerful method that provides the foundation for calculus and a means by which computers perform calculations. Making a discrete approximation involves representing a continuous quantity through a collection of distinct pieces. We live with such approximations every day. For example, a movie reel is a collection of picture frames, shown to us rapidly on a screen to give the impression of a continuous flow of events. Computer screens and laser printers represent images by a collection of small, tightly packed cells (called pixels), joined together to give the impression of a continuous image. If one looks closely at a computer or television screen, the small cells can become noticeable.

Measurement with discrete approximation involves dividing an irregularly shaped object into a collection of smaller pieces whose measurement is more manageable. For example, consider...

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This section contains 1,018 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
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Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics
Measurements, Irregular from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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