sometimes compound and at other times cancel

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Soo-Jin Heo

New Member
Korean
Hi,

Can anyone help me with understanding the meaning of these two verbs below?
I looked them up in a dictionary but couldn't guess. The context is that they calcuate some figures
and talk about accuracy.
Thank you!

*Experience shows that inaccuracies can sometimes compound and at other times cancel each other.
 
  • Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    In this context,

    compound (WR dictionary): to increase or add to, esp. so as to worsen: When he started arguing with the police officer it only compounded his problems.
    cancel (WR dictionary): to balance; make up for: His sincere apology canceled his sarcastic remark.

    Inaccuracies can sometimes make the effect of other inaccuracies worse, and can sometimes compensate for other inaccuracies.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    If a calculation is wrong by 5%, and a later calculation is also wrong by 5%, the final value may be 10% wrong, or 0% wrong. It depends on whether the two errors were in the same direction or the opposite direction.

    Two opposite mistakes "cancel each other" if the result is 0% wrong. They "compound each other" if it is 10%.

    In general "compound" is not precise. See examples in #2. "Cancel" is often precise, meaning one thing removes the result of another.
     
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