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Software for measurement uncertainty calculation

10 April 2013

A paper just published in the British journal Measurement Science and Technology, entitled "Object-oriented software for evaluating measurement uncertainty" (Meas. Sci. Technol. 24 (2013) 055004), shows how new algorithms developed at MSL can be used to carry out measurement uncertainty calculations.

The paper illustrates the novel approach of using 'uncertain numbers' to perform data processing. Uncertain numbers are software entities that can represent estimates of measured quantities and encapsulate the uncertainty of those estimates. They allow the process of uncertainty propagation in mathematical equations to be fully automated.  

Data processing can be expressed clearly and intuitively, because the uncertain numbers representing measured quantities are combined in familiar ways to obtain a result. The associated calculation of uncertainty is almost completely transparent to the user.

Uncertain-number software both simplifies the task of evaluating uncertainty and allows more challenging problems to be addressed. The work underpins several current projects at MSL, including the evaluation of uncertainty for complex-valued impedance measurements, at radio and microwave frequencies, and the development of a tool for certifying metering installations that are used for trading electricity.

The paper is available on-line ( During the month of April, public access is free.

Contact person: Blair Hall