Skip to main content

error propagation

error propagation A term that refers to the way in which, at a given stage of a calculation, part of the error arises out of the error at a previous stage. This is independent of the further roundoff errors inevitably introduced between the two stages. Unfavorable error propagation can seriously affect the results of a calculation.

The investigation of error propagation in simple arithmetical operations is used as the basis for the detailed analysis of more extensive calculations. The way in which uncertainties in the data propagate into the final results of a calculation can be assessed in practice by repeating the calculation with slightly perturbed data.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"error propagation." A Dictionary of Computing. . 24 Mar. 2019 <>.

"error propagation." A Dictionary of Computing. . (March 24, 2019).

"error propagation." A Dictionary of Computing. . Retrieved March 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.