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Unit of study_

OLET1652: How to Estimate Anything

How many hairs are there on a human head? What is the probability of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe? What is the GDP of a small nation? Remarkably, it is possible to answer these questions more-or-less accurately, with minimal information. The ability to do this - to estimate - is a valuable life skill. In this unit you will learn systematic approaches to estimation, which allow order-of-magnitude answers to be provided for any quantitative question. You will also learn to evaluate the uncertainties in your estimates. Examples will be drawn from across the sciences and the humanities. The unit connects theoretical knowledge with practical application, and seeks to develop the ability to critically evaluate quantitative information from a broad variety of sources.

Code OLET1652
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 2
Assumed knowledge:
HSC Mathematics (2 unit)

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. apply numerical estimation to solve a wide range of problems
  • LO2. understand the role of units and dimensions in describing quantities
  • LO3. understand and be able to apply dimensional analysis
  • LO4. construct basic models.