Understanding Measurement: Definition & Principles

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After reading this lesson, you'll have the necessary information you need about measurement. You'll learn about how you can use iteration to help you measure and how measurement is both additive and invariant.

What Is Measurement?

A cashier weighing the amount of produce a customer has bought and a carpet installer checking to see the length and width of a room are all examples of measurement. Measurement is defined as the action of determining the size or amount of something. This is usually done by using an acceptable measurement tool such as a ruler or scale. For example, the carpet installer uses a tape measure as his choice of measurement tool to see how long and wide a particular room is.

A ruler is a measurement tool used in measurement

In this lesson, you'll learn all you need about measurement so you can pass any tests you need to take.


First, the most important of measurement are the units. It is these units that tell us how large or small something is. A measurement unit is defined as the standard and adopted quantity to measure things with. Depending on what is being measured, different units are used. When measuring weight, pounds are used. When measuring the size of a room, feet are used.

You can say that a room is 20 feet long, a box weighs 45 pounds, and your computer screen measures 17 inches on its diagonal.

Using Iteration

Second, sometimes iteration needs to be used to measure something. Iteration is when a single measurement unit is used to measure something larger. For example, using a yard stick to measure the length of a room instead of a tape measure. If the carpet installer didn't have a tape measure, but only have a yard stick, he would have to keep moving the yard stick end to end to measure the length and width of the room. He is using iteration to measure the room.

For example, say you are measuring the height of your door with a 12 inch ruler. You use iteration and you find that the height of your door equals 6 of your 12 inch rulers. This means that your door height is 12 * 6 = 72 inches.


Measurement has a couple of properties you can use to help you solve problems. For one, measurement has the property of additivity. This means that if you have several objects, the total measurement of these objects is the sum of the individual measurements of the objects.

Going to the shopping example, if you have two bags of peaches, one weighing 2 pounds and the other 3 pounds, the total weight measurement of your peaches is 2 +3 = 5 pounds.

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