Accuracy vs. Precision in Analysis

Years ago, I sat in a presentation introducing the use of load and resistance factor design (LRFD) for wood design, when one of the attendees asked the esteemed academic presenter, “So professor, how many decimal points do we take that wrong answer to?”  Sometimes, we engineers become so focused on the detail that we lose sight of the overall solution.

When using software as a tool for analysis and design of structures, we gain the benefits of letting the computer do what it does well – crunch numbers and give an answer.  The tool enables us to perform multiple and quick “what-if” analysis and examine different solutions to the problem we are trying to solve. It saves you time over hand calculations and allows for easy documentation of your results.  

While it is up to the engineer to have the experience to spot an obviously wrong answer, you must have confidence in the tools you use. That confidence comes in many forms: experience with the tool, reputation, or a formal vetting process. Earlier this year, Dr. Leroy Emkin wrote a wonderful four-part article about how you can build this confidence. I’d encourage you to go back and read it. Because no matter how precise an answer is, it’s no good if it’s wrong.

Vol. 2 | Issue 12 | Dec. 2015

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Intergraph CADWorx and Analysis Solutions will soon release the 2016 version of GT STRUDL. Stay tuned and be the first to know what will be included and when it is available.

Watch our recorded webinar on error-free internal member calculations. The correct calculation of such internal section forces has the potential to enable structural engineers to create safer and more cost-effective structures. designs.

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Geoff Blumber
North America Channel Manager CADWorx & Analysis Solutions