Uncertain Measurements

The units library supports a class of measurements including an uncertainty measurement.

For Example 3.0±0.2m would indicate a measurement of 3.0 meters with an uncertainty of 0.2 m.

All operations are supported The propagation of uncertainty follow the root sum of squares methods outlined Here. There are methods available such as simple_divide, simple_product, simple_sum and simple_subtract that just sum the uncertainties. The method in use in the regular operators assume that the measurements used in the mathematical operation are independent, and should use the sum of squares methods. A more thorough explanation can be found at this location.

The structure of an uncertain measurement consists of a float for the measurement value and a float for the uncertainty, and unit for the unit of the measurement.


There are a number of different constructors for an uncertain measurement aimed at specify the uncertainty and measurement in different ways.

  • constexpr uncertain_measurement() default constructor with 0 values for the value and uncertainty and a one for the unit.

  • constexpr uncertain_measurement(<float|double> val, <float|double> uncertainty, unit base) : specify the parameters with values.

  • constexpr uncertain_measurement(<float|double> val, unit base): Just specify the value and unit, assume 0.0 uncertainty.

  • constexpr uncertain_measurement(measurement val, float uncertainty) noexcept : construct from a measurement and uncertainty value.

  • uncertain_measurement(measurement val, measurement uncertainty) noexcept: construct from a measurement value and uncertainty measurement. The uncertainty is converted to the same units as the value measurement.

Additional operators

Beyond the operations used in Measurements, there are some specific functions related to getting and setting the uncertainty.

  • uncertain_measurement& uncertainty(<double|float> newUncertainty) : Will set the uncertainty value as a numerical value.

  • uncertain_measurement& uncertainty(const measurement &newUncerrtainty): will set the uncertainty as a measurement in specific units.

  • double uncertainty(): Will get the current numerical value of the uncertainty

  • double uncertainty_as(units): will get the value of the uncertainty in specific units.

  • float uncertainty_f(): will get the value of the uncertainty as a single precision floating point value.

  • constexpr measurement uncertainty_measurement(): will return a measurement containing the uncertainty.

  • double fractional_uncertainty(): will get the fractional uncertainty value. which is uncertainty/|value|.

String operations

The units library has some functions to extract an uncertain_measurement from a string - uncertain_measurement_from_string(const std::string &ustring, std::uint64_t match_flags=0)

The from string operation searches for an uncertainty marker then splits the string into two parts. It then uses the measurement from string operation on both halves of the string and forms an uncertain measurement from them depending on whether both halves have units and or values. Allowed uncertainty marker strings include [“+/-”, “±”, “&plusmn;”, “+-”, “<u>+</u>”, “&#xB1;”, “&pm;”, “ \pm “]. These possibilities include unicode and ascii values and some sequences used in latex and html.

For Example all the following string will produce the same uncertain_measurement

  • “3.1±0.3 m/s”

  • “3.1 +/- 0.3 m/s”

  • “3.1 &pm; 0.3 m/s”

  • “3.1 m/s ±0.3 m/s”

  • “3.1 m/s ±0.3”

  • “3.1 meters per second ±0.3 m/s”

  • “3.1 m/s +- 0.3*60 meters per minute”

  • “3.1(3) m/s”

The last form is known as concise notation. The match flags are the same as would be used for converting Measurements