Patterns for Communicating Numerical Uncertainty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Uncertainty is an inherent property of all measurements, statistics, or generally all communication involving numbers. Whenever numerical data is communicated, the uncertainty or confidence in this data should also be included. Neglecting it, or communicating it in an ambiguous way, leads to misinterpretation and misunderstandings. There are some well-known and proven patterns to avoid such problems. In this paper we present a collection of patterns for the communication of numerical uncertainty. These patterns revolve around three areas of applications: textual, numerical, and graphical. For numerical representations the pattern Numbers with Uncertainties is shown. For textual descriptions Words of Estimative Probability, Numeric Hedge Words and Quantitative Comparisons are explained, and for graphical visualization Error Indicator and Distribution Plots are described. The paper is targeted towards communicators, visualizers, reporters, as well as developers, engineers, and researchers of solutions for problems which involve uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 24th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs, EuroPLoP 2019
PublisherAssociation of Computing Machinery
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781450362061
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
Event24th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs: EuroPLoP 2019 - Irsee, Germany
Duration: 3 Jul 20197 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference24th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs


  • Ambiguity
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Error
  • Probability
  • Uncertainty
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Application


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