Rounding numbersDate: 8/4/96 at 23:53:45 From: Jackie Linn Johnson Subject: Rounding numbers Dr. Math, Can you define the word "round" for me? The children ask, "What is round?" Date: 8/6/96 at 10:50:26 From: Doctor Jerry Subject: Re: Rounding numbers I looked in two dictionaries and found no particular derivation of the word "round" as applied to "rounding a number." It is my guess that the meaning gradually emerged from the generalized meaning of rounding, to make circular, whole, or entire, as in rounding an irregular piece of wood, so that it becomes regular. When a number is rounded to the nearest integer, we are in some sense simplifying or perfecting the number. The number 5 inches is somehow more easily grasped by the mind than 5.17 inches, especially when, for the task at hand, 5 inches is close enough. If we are laying out a garden with stakes, measuring tape, and string, measuring to the nearest inch is close enough. -Doctor Jerry, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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