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.

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

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS)

    Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a protocol that provides authentication, privacy, and data integrity between two communicating ...

  • van Eck phreaking

    Van Eck phreaking is a form of electronic eavesdropping that reverse engineers the electromagnetic fields (EM fields) produced by...

  • zero-trust model (zero trust network)

    The zero trust model is a security model used by IT professionals that requires strict identity and device verification ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

  • business continuity software

    Business continuity software is an application or suite designed to make business continuity planning/business continuity ...

  • business continuity policy

    Business continuity policy is the set of standards and guidelines an organization enforces to ensure resilience and proper risk ...

SearchStorage

  • solid-state storage

    Solid-state storage (SSS) is a type of computer storage media made from silicon microchips. SSS stores data electronically ...

  • persistent storage

    Persistent storage is any data storage device that retains data after power to that device is shut off. It is also sometimes ...

  • computational storage

    Computational storage is an information technology (IT) architecture in which data is processed at the storage device level to ...

Close