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Unraveling Precision, Accuracy, and Resolution in Data Science

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Coinmonks

A Comprehensive Guide to Essential Concepts for Researchers and Data Analysts

In this tutorial, we will explain the distinctions between three frequently used terms that hold significance not only in statistics but also in measurement within the broader realm of science [1]. These terms are accuracy, precision, and resolution.

Table of contents

· Accuracy

· Precision

· Resolution

· Precision, Accuracy, and Resolution

· Conclusion

· References

Accuracy is the relationship between the measurements obtained (whether from sensors, questionnaires, electrodes, or cameras) and the actual truth, which exists in the real world. Practically, accuracy tells us how well a measurement represents reality. Accuracy is often assessed by comparing measurements to a reference standard or a known true value and the difference between the measured value and the true value is the measurement error.

Accuracy is inversely related to bias, and these terms are often used interchangeably. Bias refers to a systematic and consistent deviation or error in measurements or data that occurs in the same direction repeatedly. This means that the measurements consistently overestimate or underestimate the true value.

Let’s consider an example involving a target shooting scenario to illustrate accuracy and bias. Imagine an archer practicing target shooting with a bow and arrow, aiming to hit the center of the target, which is the bullseye. In this context, Accuracy is how closely the archer’s arrows hit the center of the target (the true or desired point).

In the left image below, the measurements show that, on average, the arrows are hitting very close to the center of the bullseye. In this case, the archer displays high accuracy because the measured positions of the arrows are very close to the desired target, which is the center of the bullseye.

In the right image below, the archer has a consistent and systematic error in his shooting technique that causes the arrows to consistently deviate in one direction…


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