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Thread: Why is the number one hundred used to represent completeness in terms of percentages?

  1. #1 Why is the number one hundred used to represent completeness in terms of percentages? 
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    In situations such as scoring on a test, showing how much humidity there is, or determing how many people vote in an election, the amount is based on what remains out of one hundred. What gives this number authority to carry the mark of a generalized maximum? I know that for the sakes of simplicity and speed a low number on the digital scale is needed for a stopping point, but am wondering why one hundred is set apart from other numbers for this purpose. Moreover, if one hundred is the accepted limit for a percentage, then why are there statistics such as one hundred and fifty or two hundred percent? What is the ceiling for this sort of result?


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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    100 is 2 decimal points away from 1 in the decimal system that we choose to use for a lot of things. 1 decimal point, making 10, would be practically too small, and 3 decimal points would be practically too high for most things we use % for.

    150% is still based on the per cent - per hundred - notation.


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    Forum Senior TheObserver's Avatar
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    Its because things in probability and statistics are defined so that they sum up to 1. This means numbers like 0.01 and 0.834 ect. tend to show up. These aren't very psychologically easy to deal with so we invented the percentage system, which is 100 times this number, so that we can get a better grasp of it in our heads. I dunno about you but I have an easier time thinking about numbers like 1 and 83 over those decimal numbers.
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    Althought per cent is very popular, it is not the only "unit" used to define ratio. When dealing with very small proportions, we used per 1000 or per 10000 or more.
    Sample from Demography in Wikipedia "The crude birth rate, [is] the annual number of live births per 1,000 people."
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    And there is a "per mille" symbol, ‰, for per thousand.
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    Forum Professor river_rat's Avatar
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    In Finance you also have pips and basis points which correspond to 1 in 10,000
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    And the reason for all of these is that people need to have standard reference points.
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    Electrical engineers like to use the "per unit" system when working with power transmission.
    Per-unit system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresa View Post
    I know that for the sakes of simplicity and speed a low number on the digital scale is needed for a stopping point, but am wondering why one hundred is set apart from other numbers for this purpose.
    I can't honestly say exactly why we use a percentage system as opposed to ordinary numerical expansions. But I can say it could be simply for convenience. It originated that way. It's incorporated into many everyday calculations... everybody knows it and everybody uses it. It's no more right or wrong than ordinary expansions, but people in general can probably comprehend the number "3.2" better than "0.032" when imagining compared quantities.

    Another thing percentage does is distinguish the ratio values from the actual quantities.
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  11. #10  
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    Thank you everyone. TheObserver, pyoko, and epidecus, you all made great points for clarifying this.
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