Browse Definitions:
Definition

order of magnitude

An order of magnitude is an exponential change of plus-or-minus 1 in the value of a quantity or unit. The term is generally used in conjunction with power-of-10 scientific notation.

In base 10, the most common numeration scheme worldwide, an increase of one order of magnitude is the same as multiplying a quantity by 10. An increase of two orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying by 100, or 102. In general, an increase of n orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying a quantity by 10n. Thus, 2315 is one order of magnitude larger than 231.5, which in turn is is one order of magnitude larger than 23.15.

As values get smaller, a decrease of one order of magnitude is the same as multiplying a quantity by 0.1. A decrease of two orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying by 0.01, or 10-2. In general, a decrease of n orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying a quantity by 10-n. Thus, 23.15 is one order of magnitude smaller than 231.5, which in turn is one order of magnitude smaller than 2315.

In the Standard International (SI) System of Units, most quantities can be expressed in multiple or fractional terms according to the order of magnitude. For example, attaching the prefix "kilo-" to a unit increases the size of the unit by three orders of magnitude, or one thousand (103). Attaching the prefix "micro-" to a unit decreases the size of the unit by six orders of magnitude, the equivalent of multiplying it by one millionth (10-6). Scientists and engineers have designated prefix multipliers from septillionths (10-24) to septillions (1024), a span of 48 orders of magnitude.

Also see prefix multipliers, scientific notation, significant figures, and Standard International (SI) System of Units.

This was last updated in September 2005

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

this sucks i understand notthing
Cancel
Perhaps, but who is at fault? The fool or the teacher of the fool?
Cancel
I do not think it is necessary to call the commenter below a fool. I think it would be best served to assist him/her in better understanding orders of magnitude.
Cancel
Very well explained, thank you
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication ...

  • vulnerability disclosure

    Vulnerability disclosure is the practice of publishing information about a computer security problem, and a type of policy that ...

  • incident response

    Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, also ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • flash memory

    Flash memory, also known as flash storage, is a type of nonvolatile memory that erases data in units called blocks.

  • NAND flash memory

    NAND flash memory is a type of nonvolatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data.

  • NOR flash memory

    NOR flash memory is one of two types of nonvolatile storage technologies.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close