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What would be the value of expressing something like the national debt in scientific notation? What information would be lost in such a usage? Is that important? Explain why or why not.

  • Algebra - ,

    it's easier to grasp the relative magnitudes of small numbers. So, it's simple to compare 4.3 trillion to 2.1 trillion. Trying to work with numbers like 2343000000000 is hard because of all the trailing digits that really add no useful information.

    So, while some precision is often lost in scientific notation, digits after the first 3 or 4 really don't affect the ideas being discussed.

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