Precision and accuracy are two words that are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, the two are not synonyms. In fact, they have two distinct meanings.
‘Among’ and ‘between’ are other examples of words mistaken for synonyms. ‘Between’ refers to specific items, while ‘among’ is reserved for generic items.
What is the difference between accuracy and precision? Which one is more important than the other in terms of quality management? Read on to learn more about this very important distinction.
What is Precision?
Both precision and accuracy are a way to characterize measurements. They are frequently used in scientific studies, engineering, and statistics.
Precision is when a series of measurements are close together and have very little scatter within the measurements. Dartboards are often used as a way to visualize the difference between precision and accuracy.
If your dart-throwing is precise but not accurate, they are clustered in one location on the dartboard but aren’t necessarily near the target. In this scenario, the bullseye is the target value.
The results of several samples are taken into consideration when measuring precision.
What is Accuracy?
Accuracy is how close a measured value is to the target. Unlike precision, scatter has no bearing on whether something is accurate or not. While accuracy can be measured using just one target, we can also use the dartboard with multiple darts as an example.
The accurate darts are the ones close to the bullseye, though not necessarily on the target. Precise and accurate darts are close or on the bullseye in a cluster.
A weather thermometer’s readings are another example where precision and accuracy mean two different things. If an outdoor thermometer says it’s 88 degrees and it actually is 88 degrees outside, that’s an accurate reading.
A precise reading considers the thermometer’s readings over several days. If the device accurately read the temperature for several days in a row, it would be a precise reading.
Which is More Important: Accuracy or Precision
Ideally, measurements are both accurate and precise, but it’s not always a requirement. Measurements for accuracy and precision can extend beyond science and engineering into the quality management industry.
The measurements can determine if a product meets the project’s requirements. Is it up to par, or is it defective? When it comes to measuring accuracy and precision, one is more important than the other.
Accuracy is more important than precision when measuring the quality of a product. As we mentioned, an accurate and precise measurement is ideal, but it isn’t a requirement.
However, an accurate measurement close to the target value is acceptable, whether precise or not. On the other hand, precision doesn’t matter without accuracy.
The distinction between precision and accuracy can be a confusing one, and many people use the two terms to mean the same thing. An easy way to remember the difference is that accuracy is a measurement that’s close to the target value. Precision relates to the repeatability of the measurement.