# number, figure and digit?

9 replies
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Hi teachers:

Can you tell me the differences between number, figure and digit? Especially the confusion on number and figure.

Thanks
Junior Member85
As I get it,

figure, digit = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0

number = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, but also 11, 12, 13 ..... 9999 etc

I'm not a teacher, but I hope it makes at least some sense.
Veteran Member6,387
Usually number refers to an integer, digit refers to a single numeral and figure refers to a float.
Regular Member532
Hi Bokeh,

What do you mean by a float?

Clive
Veteran Member69,457
Hi Clive,

A float (floating point number ) is a computer science term for a number with a radix point (more commonly known as a decimal point when dealing with base 10 numbers). What's the laymans term for a float?
Hi,

If you mean eg 1 mile = 1.6 kms, most people would call it a decimal point.

However, I wouldn't say that the term 'figure' can only be used for numbers involving decimals.

In practice, I think I tend to think of a figure as a number that represents something, eg \$10,000 or 857 miles.

Best wishes, Clive
Hi,

Look like we all agree that digit = {0, 1, ..., 9}.

In terms of a 6-digit number or a 6-figure salary, both digit and figure are the same. However, we say government figures, not government digits. In this case, a figure is a symbol that represents a measurement (amount, quantity, distance).

The term number is similar to figure in the sense of measurement. However, number does cover some other usages such as cardinal / prime number.

Therefore, in terms of numbering system, number includes figure which includes digit.
Contributing Member1,100
I agree with Hoa. The meanings overlap. And forget about "float", it's a technical word that is only used in specific contexts. If you already know what it means, you definitely know when to use it, otherwise don't learn it at all.
Veteran Member5,652
CliveHowever, I wouldn't say that the term 'figure' can only be used for numbers involving decimals.
In practice, I think I tend to think of a figure as a number that represents something, eg \$10,000 or 857 miles.Those are floats, it's just that the figures you have chosen have a zero modulo, i.e. it is possible to have a value of 1.25 or 1 1/4 miles. On the other hand if we were talking about an indivisible unit, for example a bomb (you cant have 2.4 bombs), you would use the term number, rather than figure.

That is just my observation of how it seems to work, but may be completely incorrect.