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

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Measurements, Irregular

Many shapes in our world are irregular and complicated. The boundary of a lake or stream can be curved and winding. A stock market graph can be highly erratic, with jumps and dips of various sizes. The path of a fly ball is a smooth arc affected by gravity and wind resistance. Clouds are filled with cotton-like bumps and ripples. Measuring our world requires us to confront a variety of irregular shapes, ranging from graceful curves to sharp, jagged edges.

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...

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