Simplify Uncertainty Analysis With Excel Macros

  • Richard A. Davis University of Minnesota Duluth • Duluth, Minnesota 55812


A simple classroom exercise is used to teach students about the law of propagation of uncertainty in experimental measurements and analysis. Students calculate the density of a rectangular wooden block with a hole from several measurements of mass and length using a ruler and scale. The ruler and scale give students experience with estimating fixed uncertainties from analog and digital instruments. The analysis is simplified using VBA macros in an Excel workbook that students create as a template for uncertainty analysis.

Author Biography

Richard A. Davis, University of Minnesota Duluth • Duluth, Minnesota 55812

Richard Davis is professor and head of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University and the University of California Santa Barbara, respectively. He teaches courses in computational methods and unit operations. His research interests include modeling and simulation of mineral processing, air pollution control, and separations.