Metric System Prefixes
Date: 09/17/97 at 08:48:38 From: erik Subject: Algebra I My algebra teacher wrote the word "teraflops" on the board and told us to find the meaning. I've looked in dictionaries, encyclopedias and searched the Math Forum on the Internet but have not been able to find it. Can you help? Thanks!
Date: 09/23/97 at 09:27:12 From: Doctor Rob Subject: Re: Algebra I A "flop" is a computer floating-point arithmetic operation (FLoating OPeration, get it?), typically the addition of two floating-point numbers. It can also mean the rate of speed of a computer which can do one flop per second. (When "flop" is used with this last meaning, it should more properly be said "flop per second," but the jargon is to just say "flop.") Attaching a prefix modifies the meaning to describe other speeds, just as adding a prefix to metric measures modifies the meaning. Examples: meter, kilometer (=1000 meters), millimeter (=0.001 meter); second, microsecond (=0.000001 second), nanosecond (=0.000000001 second). The metric system prefixes I know have the following values: deka- 10^1 deci- 10^(-1) hecto- 10^2 centi- 10^(-2) kilo- 10^3 milli- 10^(-3) mega- 10^6 micro- 10^(-6) giga- 10^9 nano- 10^(-9) tera- 10^12 pico- 10^(-12) peta- 10^15 femto- 10^(-15) exa- 10^18 atto- 10^(-18) zetta- 10^21 zepto- 10^(-21) yotta- 10^24 yocto- 10^(-24) So what is a teraflop? It is 10^12 = 1,000,000,000,000 = 1 trillion floating-point additons. It is also the speed of a computer that can execute those computer arithmetic operations in one second (but should more properly be called "1 teraflop per second"). That's really impressive! The description of floating-point numbers as a method of representing numbers internally in a computer is a separate question. If you need to know about that, write again. -Doctor Rob, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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