Part of the Mathematics glossary:

Truncation error is the difference between a truncated value and the actual value. A truncated quantity is represented by a numeral with a fixed number of allowed digits, with any excess digits "chopped off" (hence the expression "truncated").

As an example of truncation error, consider the speed of light in a vacuum. The official value is 299,792,458 meters per second. In scientific (power-of-10) notation, that quantity is expressed as 2.99792458 x 108. Truncating it to two decimal places yields 2.99 x 108. The truncation error is the difference between the actual value and the truncated value, or 0.00792458 x 108. Expressed properly in scientific notation, it is 7.92458 x 105.

In computing applications, truncation error is the discrepancy that arises from executing a finite number of steps to approximate an infinite process. For example, the infinite series 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 ... adds up to exactly 1. However, if we truncate the series to only the first four terms, we get 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 = 15/16, producing a truncation error of 1 - 15/16, or 1/16.

This was last updated in June 2012
Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • normal distribution

    - A normal distribution is an arrangement of a data set in which most values cluster in the middle of the range and the rest taper off symmetrically toward either end.  A graphical representation of ... (WhatIs.com)

  • zettaflops

    - Zettaflop or (ZFlop) is a processing power of one septillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS). The zetta in zettaflop represents 10 to the 21st power -- 10 multiplied by itself 21 times... (WhatIs.com)

  • mathematical induction

    - Mathematical induction is a a specialized form of deductive reasoning used to prove a fact about all the elements in an infinite set by performing a finite number of steps.  (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Mathematics

    - Terms related to mathematics, including definitions about logic, algorithms and computations and mathematical terms used in computer science and business.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.