Error propagation calculator and library for physical measurements. It supports real and complex numbers with uncertainty, arbitrary precision calculations, operations with arrays, and numerical integration.

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Measurements.jl is a package that allows you to define numbers with uncertainties, perform calculations involving them, and easily get the uncertainty of the result according to linear error propagation theory. This library is written in Julia, a modern high-level, high-performance dynamic programming language designed for technical computing.

When used in the Julia interactive session, it can serve also as an easy-to-use calculator.

Features List

  • Support for most mathematical operations available in Julia standard library and special functions from SpecialFunctions.jl package, involving real and complex numbers. All existing functions that accept AbstractFloat (and Complex{AbstractFloat} as well) arguments and internally use already supported functions can in turn perform calculations involving numbers with uncertainties without being redefined. This greatly enhances the power of Measurements.jl without effort for the users
  • Functional correlation between variables is correctly handled, so x-x ≈ zero(x), x/x ≈ one(x), tan(x) ≈ sin(x)/cos(x), cis(x) ≈ exp(im*x), etc...
  • Support for arbitrary precision (also called multiple precision) numbers with uncertainties. This is useful for measurements with very low relative error
  • Define arrays of measurements and perform calculations with them. Some linear algebra functions work out-of-the-box
  • Propagate uncertainty for any function of real arguments (including functions based on C/Fortran calls), using @uncertain macro
  • Function to get the derivative and the gradient of an expression with respect to one or more independent measurements
  • Functions to calculate standard score and weighted mean
  • Parse strings to create measurement objects
  • Easy way to attach the uncertainty to a number using the ± sign as infix operator. This syntactic sugar makes the code more readable and visually appealing
  • Extensible in combination with external packages: you can propagate errors of measurements with their physical units, perform numerical integration with QuadGK.jl, numerical and automatic differentiation, and much more.

Further features are expected to come in the future, see the section "How Can I Help?" and the TODO list below.

The method used to handle functional correlation is described in this paper:

If you use use this package for your research, please cite it.


The complete manual of Measurements.jl is available at http://measurementsjl.readthedocs.io. There, people interested in the details of the package, in order integrate the package in their workflow, can can find a technical appendix explaining how the package internally works. You can also download the PDF version of the manual from https://media.readthedocs.org/pdf/measurementsjl/latest/measurementsjl.pdf.


Measurements.jl is available for Julia 0.6 and later versions, and can be installed with Julia built-in package manager. In a Julia session run the commands

julia> Pkg.update()
julia> Pkg.add("Measurements")

Older versions are also available for Julia 0.4 and 0.5.


After installing the package, you can start using it with

using Measurements

The module defines a new Measurement data type. Measurement objects can be created with the two following constructors:

measurement(value, uncertainty)
value ± uncertainty


  • value is the nominal value of the measurement
  • uncertainty is its uncertainty, assumed to be a standard deviation.

They are both subtype of AbstractFloat. Some keyboard layouts provide an easy way to type the ± sign, if your does not, remember you can insert it in Julia REPL with \pm followed by TAB key. You can provide value and uncertainty of any subtype of Real that can be converted to AbstractFloat. Thus, measurement(42, 33//12) and pi ± 0.1 are valid.

measurement(value) creates a Measurement object with zero uncertainty, like mathematical constants. See below for further examples.

Every time you use one of the constructors above, you define a new independent measurement. Instead, when you perform mathematical operations involving Measurement objects you create a quantity that is not independent, but rather depends on really independent measurements.

Most mathematical operations are instructed, by operator overloading, to accept Measurement type, and uncertainty is calculated exactly using analityc expressions of functions’ derivatives.

In addition, it is possible to create a Complex measurement with complex(measurement(a, b), measurement(c, d)).


measurement function has also a method that enables you to create a Measurement object from a string.

This module extends many methods defined in Julia’s mathematical standard library, and some methods from widespread third-party packages as well. This is the case for most special functions in SpecialFunctions.jl package, and the quadgk integration routine from QuadGK.jl package. See the full manual for details.

Caveat about ± Sign

The ± infix operator is a convenient symbol to define quantities with uncertainty, but can lead to unexpected results if used in elaborate expressions involving many ±s. Use parantheses where appropriate to avoid confusion. See for example the following cases:

julia> 7.5±1.2 + 3.9±0.9 # This is wrong!
11.4 ± 1.2 ± 0.9 ± 0.0

julia> (7.5±1.2) + (3.9±0.9) # This is correct
11.4 ± 1.5


julia> using Measurements

julia> a = measurement(4.5, 0.1)
4.5 ± 0.1

julia> b = 3.8 ± 0.4
3.8 ± 0.4

julia> 2a + b
12.8 ± 0.4472135954999579

julia> a - 1.2b
-0.05999999999999961 ± 0.49030602688525043

julia> l = measurement(0.936, 1e-3);

julia> T = 1.942 ± 4e-3;

julia> P = 4pi^2*l/T^2
9.797993213510699 ± 0.041697817535336676

julia> c = measurement(4)
4.0 ± 0.0

julia> a*c
18.0 ± 0.4

julia> sind(94 ± 1.2)
0.9975640502598242 ± 0.0014609761696991563

julia> x = 5.48 ± 0.67;

julia> y = 9.36 ± 1.02;

julia> log(2x^2 - 3.4y)
3.3406260917568824 ± 0.5344198747546611

julia> atan2(y, x)
1.0411291003154137 ± 0.07141014208254456

Measurements from Strings

You can construct Measurement objects from strings. Within parentheses there is the uncertainty on the last digits.

julia> measurement("-12.34(56)")
-12.34 ± 0.56

julia> measurement("+1234(56)e-2")
12.34 ± 0.56

julia> measurement("123.4e-1 +- 0.056e1")
12.34 ± 0.56

julia> measurement("(-1.234 ± 0.056)e1")
-12.34 ± 0.56

julia> measurement("1234e-2 +/- 0.56e0")
12.34 ± 0.56

julia> measurement("-1234e-2")
-12.34 ± 0.0

Correlation Between Variables

Here you can see examples of how functionally correlated variables are treated within the package:

julia> x = 8.4 ± 0.7

julia> x - x
0.0 ± 0.0

julia> x/x
1.0 ± 0.0

julia> x*x*x - x^3
0.0 ± 0.0

julia> sin(x)/cos(x) - tan(x)
-2.220446049250313e-16 ± 0.0 # They are equal within numerical accuracy

@uncertain Macro

Macro @uncertain can be used to propagate uncertainty in arbitrary real- or complex-valued functions of any number of real arguments, even in functions not natively supported by this package.

julia> @uncertain zeta(2 ± 0.13)
1.6449340668482273 ± 0.12188127308075564

julia> @uncertain log(9.4 ± 1.3, 58.8 ± 3.7)
1.8182372640255153 ± 0.11568300475873611

julia> log(9.4 ± 1.3, 58.8 ± 3.7)
1.8182372640255153 ± 0.11568300475593848

Complex Measurements

Here are a few examples about uncertainty propagation of complex-valued measurements.

julia> u = complex(32.7 ± 1.1, -3.1 ± 0.2)

julia> v = complex(7.6 ± 0.9, 53.2 ± 3.4)

julia> 2u + v
(73.0 ± 2.3769728648009427) + (47.0 ± 3.4234485537247377)im

julia> sqrt(u * v)
(33.004702573592 ± 1.0831254428098636) + (25.997507418428984 ± 1.1082833691607152)im

Arrays of Measurements

You can create arrays of Measurement objects and perform mathematical operations on them:

julia> A = [1.03 ± 0.14, 2.88 ± 0.35, 5.46 ± 0.97]
3-element Array{Measurements.Measurement{Float64},1}:

julia> log.(A)
3-element Array{Measurements.Measurement{Float64},1}:

julia> cos.(A) .^ 2 .+ sin.(A) .^ 2
3-element Array{Measurements.Measurement{Float64},1}:

julia> B = measurement.([174.8, 253.7, 626.6], [12.2, 19.4, 38.5])
3-element Array{Measurements.Measurement{Float64},1}:

julia> sum(B)
1055.1 ± 44.80457565918909

julia> mean(B)
351.7 ± 14.93485855306303

Derivative and Gradient

The package provides a convenient function, Measurements.derivative, that returns the total derivative and the gradient of an expression with respect to independent measurements.

julia> x = 98.1 ± 12.7
98.1 ± 12.7

julia> y = 105.4 ± 25.6
105.4 ± 25.6

julia> z = 78.3 ± 14.1
78.3 ± 14.1

julia> Measurements.derivative(2x - 4y, x)

julia> Measurements.derivative(2x - 4y, y)

julia> Measurements.derivative.(log1p(x) + y^2 - cos(x/y), [x, y, z])
3-element Array{Float64,1}:
   0.0       # The expression does not depend on z

stdscore Function

You can get the distance in number of standard deviations between a real measurement and its expected value (not a Measurement) using stdscore:

julia> stdscore(1.3 ± 0.12, 1)

You can also test the consistency of two real measurements by measuring the standard score of their difference and zero. This is what stdscore does if both arguments are Measurement objects:

julia> stdscore((4.7 ± 0.58) - (5 ± 0.01), 0)

julia> stdscore(4.7 ± 0.58, 5 ± 0.01)

weightedmean Function

Calculate the weighted and arithmetic means of your set of measurements with weightedmean and mean respectively:

julia> weightedmean((3.1±0.32, 3.2±0.38, 3.5±0.61, 3.8±0.25))
3.4665384454054498 ± 0.16812474090663868

julia> mean((3.1±0.32, 3.2±0.38, 3.5±0.61, 3.8±0.25))
3.4000000000000004 ± 0.2063673908348894

Use with SIUnits.jl and Unitful.jl

Used together with third-party packages, Measurements.jl enables you to perform calculations involving numbers with both uncertainty and physical unit. For example, you can use SIUnits.jl or Unitful.jl.

julia> using Measurements, SIUnits, SIUnits.ShortUnits

julia> hypot((3 ± 1)*m, (4 ± 2)*m) # Pythagorean theorem
5.0 ± 1.7088007490635064 m

julia> (50 ± 1)Ω * (13 ± 2.4)*1e-2*A # Ohm's Law
6.5 ± 1.20702112657567 kg m²s⁻³A⁻¹

julia> 2pi*sqrt((5.4 ± 0.3)*m / ((9.81 ± 0.01)*m/s^2)) # Pendulum's  period
4.661677707464357 ± 0.1295128435999655 s

julia> using Measurements, Unitful

julia> hypot((3 ± 1)*u"m", (4 ± 2)*u"m") # Pythagorean theorem
5.0 ± 1.7088007490635064 m

julia> (50 ± 1)*u"Ω" * (13 ± 2.4)*1e-2*u"A" # Ohm's Law
6.5 ± 1.20702112657567 A Ω

julia> 2pi*sqrt((5.4 ± 0.3)*u"m" / ((9.81 ± 0.01)*u"m/s^2")) # Pendulum's period
4.661677707464357 ± 0.12951284359996548 s


The package is developed at https://github.com/giordano/Measurements.jl. There you can submit bug reports, make suggestions, and propose pull requests.

How Can I Help?

Have a look at the TODO list below and the bug list at https://github.com/giordano/Measurements.jl/issues, pick-up a task, write great code to accomplish it and send a pull request. In addition, you can instruct more mathematical functions to accept Measurement type arguments. Please, read the technical appendix of the complete documentation in order to understand the design of this package. Bug reports and wishlists are welcome as well.


  • Add pretty printing: optionally print only the relevant significant digits (issue #5)
  • Other suggestions welcome :-)


The ChangeLog of the package is available in NEWS.md file in top directory. There have been some breaking changes from time to time, beware of them when upgrading the package.


The Measurements.jl package is licensed under the MIT "Expat" License. The original author is Mosè Giordano.

Please, cite the paper Giordano 2016 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1610.08716) if you employ this package in your research work.