Need Question Answered

Fri May 7 16:18:11 EST 1993

In article <C6M4JE.7Bw at eis.calstate.edu>, ltorre at eis.calstate.edu (Lily Anne B.
De La Torre) says:
>Can someone out there help me distinguish between the scientific terms:
>          -Accuracy
>          -Reliability
>          -Validity

I can give you a quote about "accuracy required" from Wilson, E. Bright Jr.,
in _An Introduction to Scientific Research_, (1990 repub.), Dover, pp. 58-9.

    "The accuracy of an experiment depends upon the degree with which
     the important variables can be controlled and upon the accuracy of
     the measuring apparatus. It is usually very expensive in time and
     effort to increase these by a factor of 10. It is therefore seldom
     economical to use an accuracy much greater than that necessary for
     the aims of the investigation. Some qualification of this advice is,
     however, necessary. If it really costs little more to get greater ac-
     curacy, it is clearly desirable to do so. Furthermore, good foresight
     can often see other applications of the results, perhaps a little in
     the future, for which the greater accuracy is needed. Finally, some-
     times measurements at higher accuracy bring to light new and unfore-
     seen discrepancies of fundamental importance. An example of this is
     the Lamb-Rutherford measurement of the hyperfine structure of the
     hydrogen spectrum, which showed that the Dirac theory needed modifi-
     cation. Generally speaking, however, it is unprofitable to seek high
     accuracy with no obvious application in sight, because it so often
     happens that when a need for data of this accuracy arises, earlier
     measurements are found to have been taken under unsuitable conditions
     for use in testing the new hypothesis. Naturally this question is one
     where sound judgement is more important than ready-made rules."

I noticed that a subsequent post addresses the other two issues you raise; I
hope this helps.


Alex Vrenios, kx9i
PhD Student, CSE Dept.
Arizona State University
azaxv at asuvm.inre.asu.edu

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