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for unit, quantity, basic quantities, dimensions, prefixes

Physical Quantity

Length, circumference, diameter, volume, mass, duration, population, etc are called physical quantity..

Length, circumference, diameter, etc. are physical quantities.

A physical quantity is a characteristic that allows the numerical comparison of two identical physical quantities. Each quantity can be assigned a value.

The term quantity is defined in DIN 1313:198-12. Further information in Wikipedia:

The term “characteristic” is defined in DIN 55350-12. The characteristic is a property to which a value can be assigned using objective methods, for example through measurement. The terms characteristic and quantity have similar meanings. The postal code, for example, is a characteristic, but not a quantity, because comparing the quantity or ratioing two postal codes makes no sense.


The value of a quantity is determined by a numerical value and a unit. For many units, special unit symbols are agreed upon in DIN 1301.

Examples: The units of “length” include meters (m), centimeters (cm). Units of "mass" are, for example, kilograms (kg) or grams (g).



The physical quantities "length" (l), thickness (t), distance (s), circumference (u) belong to the same dimension "length" with the unit meter (m).

The dimension describes the qualitative properties of a physical quantity, while the numerical value and unit describe the quantitative properties of a dimension.

The international SI system of units consists of 7 base units: meter (m), kilogram (kg), second (s), ampere (A), kelvin (K), mole (mol) and candela (cd) and all units derived therefrom. The SI system of units is a coherent system of units because all units can be derived by products of Zener powers of the base units.

International system of units

Internationale System of units
Dimension Symbol of quantity Symbol of Dimension Base Unit Symbol of unit
Length l L Meter m
Mass m M Kilogram kg
Time t T Second s
Current i I Ampere A
Temperature T Θ Kelvin K
Amount of substance n N Mol mol
Luminous intensity lv J Candela cd


Prefixes for units of measurement

Vorsätze (Einheitenvorsätze, Präfixe) werden eingesetzt, um Vielefache oder Teile von Maßeinheiten zu bilden und dadurch Zahlen mit vielen Vor- oder Nachkommastellen zu vermeiden.

Symbol Prefix Power of ten Value Name
G Giga 109 Milliarde
M Mega 106 1.000.000 Million
k kilo 103 1.000 Tausend
    100 1 Eins
m Milli 10-3 0.001 Tausendstel; Promille
µ Mikro 10-6 0.000001 Millionstel; ppm
n Nano 10-9 0.000000001 Milliardstel