Cluster estimation

Cluster estimation can be used to estimate sums and products when the numbers you are adding or multiplying cluster near or is close in value to a single number.

Example # 1:


Estimate 699 + 710 + 695 + 705 + 694 + 715


Carefully examine all the numbers above. You should notice that they all cluster around 700


Therefore, 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 + 700 will give us a good estimate for the answer.


Instead of adding 700 six times, just do 6 × 700.


700 × 6 = 4,200 is a good estimate of the sum


In fact, the real answer 699 + 710 + 695 + 705 + 694 + 715 = 4,218. Thus 4,200 is indeed close to the real answer.


Example # 2:


Estimate 257 + 247 + 255 + 245


Carefully examine all the numbers above. You should notice that they all cluster around 250


Therefore, 250 + 250 + 250 + 250 will give us a good estimate for the answer.


Instead of adding 250 four times, just do 4 × 250.


250 × 4 = 1,000 is a good estimate of the sum


In fact, 257 + 247 + 255 + 245 = 1004. Thus 1000 is indeed close to the real answer.


Example # 3:


Estimate 23 × 18 × 22 × 17


This time, you are estimating a multiplication problem. However,you will still use cluster estimation to estimate the product.


Just notice that all numbers above cluster around 20


Therefore, 20 × 20 × 20 × 20 will give us a good estimate for the answer.


Multiply the 2s to get 16.


Then, just put four zeros after 16 to get 160,000


The real answer is 23 × 18 × 22 × 17 = 154,836.


It is not a very good estimate, but we can live with that


In general, addition will give better estimates


Example # 4:


Estimate 8 × 11 × 12


Just notice that all numbers above cluster around 10


Therefore, 10 × 10 × 10 will give us a good estimate for the answer.


10 × 10 × 10 = 1000


The real answer is 8 × 11 × 12 = 1056.


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