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Error Is Additive

Edited: December 20, 2019 (v0.0.5)

Error is additive, i.e., the more you do it the worse the error gets. Erroneous accounting of kerf width is an apt example of how error is additive.

Saw blade “kerf” refers to the thickness of the slot which the saw blade will cut… The thickness affects the cutting width, cost, power consumption, and the amount of wood lost during the processing.

This last bit about the wood lost during processing is important. If you don’t believe me, try building a perfect square without accounting for your cutting instrument’s kerf width. You’ll notice that you’ll be a little off. If you mistakenly continue to cut the same length in this manner, the more you’ll be off. I think the notion that error is additive, exactly as the erroneous cutting of wood without accoutance for material lost, exists in other disciplines, too, even immaterial ones like computer science.

Getting fundamentals right is important to having a strong foundation. Adjusting and correcting errors made on the way is just as important.

Measure twice, cut once.