Relative Error Definition

What Is Relative Error?

Relative error is a measure of the uncertainty of a measurement compared to the entire measurement's magnitude.
Relative error is a measure of the uncertainty of a measurement compared to the entire measurement's magnitude. Caiaimage/Martin Barraud / Getty Images

Relative Error Definition: Relative error is a measure of the uncertainty of measurement compared to the size of the measurement. It's used to put error into perspective. For example, an error of 1 cm would be a lot if the total length is 15 cm, but insignificant if the length was 5 km.

Also Known As: relative uncertainty

Examples: Three weights are measured at 5.05 g, 5.00 g, and 4.95 g. The absolute error is ± 0.05 g.



The relative error is 0.05 g/5.00 g = 0.01 or 1%.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Relative Error Definition." ThoughtCo, Jul. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/definition-of-relative-error-605609. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, July 24). Relative Error Definition. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-relative-error-605609 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Relative Error Definition." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-relative-error-605609 (accessed April 23, 2018).