Measurement Units

What are the units of measure?

A unit of measure is called a conventional reference used to measure the physical quantity of a certain object, substance or phenomenon.

This reference is established by setting a standard quantity by convention, which allows calculating the dimensions of matter.

The units of measurement allow to calculate or measure matters such as length, mass, capacity, surface, volume, temperature, time, electrical intensity or light intensity.

Units of measurement have been used since ancient times. For this reason, they have been changing over time, depending not only on human needs but also on the available technology. This implies that there have been, and still are, various systems of units of measurement.

International System of Units


Currently, the most widespread of the measurement systems is the so-called International System of Units (SI), based on the metric system.

In the International System of Units, the quantities that are quantified are:

magnitudes Unit of measurement Symbol
Length meter m
Dough kilogram kg
Weather second s
Temperature Kelvin K
Electric current intensity amp A
amount of substance mole mole
light intensity candle CD
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From this list, the International System of Units contemplates a set of derived units of measure. Among them, we can mention the following:

Derived quantities unit of measurement symbol
Volume cubic meter / liter mtwo or L
Density kilogram per cubic meter kg/mtwo
Frequency hertz or hertz Hz
Strength Newton N
work and energy July J
Pressure Pascal Pa
Power watt or watt W
electrical charge columbium C
Electric potential Volt v
Electric resistance ohmnium Ω
Absorbed radiation dose sievert S.v.

See also Measurement.

SI units of length

Unit Symbol Equivalence
Kilometer km 1000m
hectometer hmm 100m
Decameter dam 10m
Meter m 1m
Decimeter dm 0.1m
Centimeter cm 0.01m
Millimeter hmm 0.001m

SI Units of Area Measurement

Unit Symbol Equivalence
Square kilometer kmtwo 1,000,000mtwo
square hectometer hmmtwo 10,000mtwo
square decameter damtwo 100mtwo
Square meter mtwo 1mtwo
square decimeter dmtwo 0.01mtwo
Square centimeter cmtwo 0.0001mtwo
square millimeter hmmtwo 0.000001mtwo

SI units of mass measurement

Unit Symbol Equivalence
Kilogram kg 1000g
Hectogram hg 100g
Decagram dag 10g
Gram g 1g
Decigram dg 0.1g
Centigram cg 0.01g
Milligram mg 0.001g

SI Units of Measurement for Capacity

Unit Symbol Equivalence
kiloliter kl 1000 liters
Hectolitre hi 100 liters
Decaliter give 10L
Liter he 1 liter
Deciliter dl 0.1L
Centiliter cl 0.01L
Milliliter ml 0.001 l.

SI units of volume measurement

Unit Symbol Equivalence
cubic kilometer km3 1,000,000,000m3
cubic hectameter hc3 1,000,000m3
cubic decameter dac3 1000m3
Cubic meter m3 1m3
cubic decimeter dc3 0.0001m3
Cubic centimeter cm3 0.000001m3
cubic millimeter hmm3 0.000000001m3

Anglo-Saxon system of units of measurement

To date, the only countries that have not adopted the International System of Units are the United States, Burma, and Liberia.

In these countries the so-called Anglo-Saxon model of unitswhich applies to the magnitudes of mass, length, surface and volume.

  • Length: in this model the following units of measure are used: mil, inch (in), foot (ft), yard (yd), rod (rd), chain (ch), furlong (fur), mile (mi) and league .
  • Surface: square foot (sq ft or ft²); square yard (sq yd or yd²); square rod (sq rd or ”rd²); rood; acre (ac); homestead; square mile (sq mi or mi²) and square league.
  • Dough: grain (gr), drachma; ounce (oz); pound (lb); stone(st); at sign; short hundredweight (US ctw); long hundredweight (UK ctw); short fourth (US qtr); long quarter (UK qtr); short ton (US ton); long ton (UK ton).
  • Volume:
    • Volume for solids: cubic inch (in³ or cu in); cubic foot (ft³ or cu ft); cubic yard (yd³ or cu yd); acre-foot; cubic mile (mi³ or cu mi).
    • Volume for dry: pint (pt); fourth (qt); gallon (gal); peck(pk); bushel (bu).
    • Volume for liquids: minimum; liquid dram (fl dr); fluid ounce (fl oz); gill; pint (pt); fourth (qt); gallon (gal) and barrel.
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Equivalences between the Anglo-Saxon model and the SI

To better understand the equivalences between both systems, let’s follow the following scheme where the most used units are expressed:

  • Dough
    • 1 ounce (ounce) = 28.35g
    • 1 pound (pound) = 453.6g
    • 1 stone (stone) = 6.35kg
  • Length
    • 1 inch (inches) = 2.54cm
    • 1 foot (feet) = 30.48cm
    • 1 yard (yard) = 91.44cm
    • 1 mile (thousand) = 1,609km
  • Volume
    • 1 pint (I painted) = 473.17ml
    • 1 gallon (gallon) = 3.78 l

Units of measurement in computing

Information technology today encompasses all areas of production and social communication. Therefore, it is convenient to know the current units of measurement, which apply to all kinds of computing devices such as computers (computers), smartphones and more.

Units of measurement in computing are classified according to three categories: storage, frequency (processor, memory and graphics) and communications (speed of data transfer).

Storage units of measure

Units of measurement for computer storage use binary code as a reference.

Units Symbol Equivalence
Bit 1
Byte b 8 bit
Kilobyte KB 1024 bytes
Megabyte MB 1024KB
gigabyte UK 1024MB
Terabyte TB 1024GB
petabyte PB 1024TB
Exabyte EB 1024 bp
zettabyte ZB 1024 EB
yottabyte YB 1024 ZB
brontobyte bb 1024 YB

See also binary code.

Computer Frequency Measurement Units

The speed at which data is processed in computing, whether in reference to the processor, graphics or memory, among other elements, is measured in Hertz or hertz (hz). Currently used are megahertz or megahertz (MHz) and gigahertz or gigahertz (GHz).

Units of measurement of data transfer (computer communication)

Units of measurement in computer communication are expressed in bps, that is, bits per second. The main ones are:

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Units Symbol Equivalence
Kilobit Kbps 1000bps
megabyte Mbps 1,000,000 bps or 1,000 Kbps
Gigabit Gbps 1,000,000,000 bps or 1000 Mbps