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#1
11-02-2009, 01:38 AM
 Koxinga Guest Join Date: Sep 1999 Location: Zeelandia Posts: 9,652
Something increases threefold means it's up 300%, or 200%?

I'm a tad uncertain on this. I've always thought that when (say) \$100 increases threefold, that's equivalent to saying it increased to 3 x \$100 = \$300, which in percent terms would be +200%. But I've seen some people (non-native English speakers, FWIW) using a shorthand of "threefold" = "300%", which of course would yield a dollar figure of \$400, not \$300. Which is correct? (Or is my math screwed up either way?)
#2
11-02-2009, 01:55 AM
 friedo Guest Join Date: May 2000 Location: Brooklyn Posts: 23,714
Threefold means "multiply by three" in my experience, so that would match your first example.
#3
11-02-2009, 02:34 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
\$100 increased threefold is \$300.
\$300 is 300% of \$100.
\$300 is a 200% increase from \$100.
#4
11-02-2009, 02:52 AM
 Alex_Dubinsky BANNED Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: New York City Posts: 2,859
I hate percents. How could a 50% difference be the same as a 33%? 200% same as 66%. It's infuriating. And then there's 300% of vs 200% more.
#5
11-02-2009, 04:08 AM
 blueninja Guest Join Date: Mar 2003 Location: Göteborg, Sweden Posts: 7
I'd say the difference is if you say it "increased by x%" or "increased to x%".

If you say it increased by 200% you'd get threefold.
If you say it increased to 300% (of its original value) you get threefold.

That's my crazy non-native English speaker rationale.
#6
11-02-2009, 05:13 AM
 Reply Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: Chicago Posts: 8,304
Is a onefold increase the same as a twofold increase?

Last edited by Reply; 11-02-2009 at 05:13 AM.
#7
11-02-2009, 05:21 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Reply Is a onefold increase the same as a twofold increase?
No.
#8
11-02-2009, 05:57 AM
 ZenBeam Guest Join Date: Oct 1999 Location: I'm right here! Posts: 8,858
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Alex_Dubinsky I hate percents. How could a 50% difference be the same as a 33%? 200% same as 66%. It's infuriating. And then there's 300% of vs 200% more.
What's really fun is when you're dealing with something already expressed in percent. The nominal efficiency is 42 percent, but we've increased it by 4 percent. Ummmm, what does that mean?
#9
11-02-2009, 05:58 AM
 Reply Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: Chicago Posts: 8,304
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix No.
Care to elaborate?
#10
11-02-2009, 06:19 AM
 Mindfield Guest Join Date: Dec 2005 Location: Overworked Posts: 6,125
Think of "___fold" as the same as saying "multiplied by ___" where ___ is the number used in the "fold" word.

Onefold = multiplied by 1
Twofold = multiplied by 2

And so on.

Where percentages are concerned, it's like this:

"x% of" works the same way, so 100% of \$100 is \$100. If you're adding it to something -- say, "give him an additional 100% of \$100" then obviously you're giving "him" \$200.

If something is "up" 100% then it has doubled in value -- it is "up" by an amount equalling its own value, just as "up 50%" means that something has increased by half its value, or \$50 in these examples. If you have \$300 where you started with \$100, then you now have 200% more than you started with, because increasing \$100 by 200% is \$300.

If something is running at 42% efficiency then increasing it by 4% means it's now running at 46% efficiency.
#11
11-02-2009, 06:24 AM
 Mogle Guest Join Date: Jun 2002 Location: Sweden Posts: 942
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Mindfield If something is running at 42% efficiency then increasing it by 4% means it's now running at 46% efficiency.
But 46/42 = 1.095, so that would be a 9.5% increase.
#12
11-02-2009, 06:55 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ZenBeam What's really fun is when you're dealing with something already expressed in percent. The nominal efficiency is 42 percent, but we've increased it by 4 percent. Ummmm, what does that mean?
Strictly speaking, it means your new efficiency is 42% * 104% = 43.68%.

If your efficiency goes from 42 percent to 46 percent, then you have increased the efficiency by 4 points.
#13
11-02-2009, 07:03 AM
 pancakes3 Guest Join Date: Nov 2008 Posts: 3,940
twofold = doubled, tripled = threefold.

onefold = singled, which doesn't mean much at all.
#14
11-02-2009, 07:15 AM
 DaveBfd Guest Join Date: Sep 2009 Posts: 275
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday Strictly speaking, it means your new efficiency is 42% * 104% = 43.68%. If your efficiency goes from 42 percent to 46 percent, then you have increased the efficiency by 4 points.
I see it as (and Im sure EVERYONE else does) taking 42 and increasing it by 4. If there is a situation where you would need to know what an exact 4% increase of a number is, you had better damn well know you need that exact number.
#15
11-02-2009, 07:35 AM
 Ronald C. Semone Member Join Date: Mar 2004 Posts: 1,404
If I start in Reno with \$1000 and I finish with \$2000, I say "I doubled my money." I increased it by 100% ( 1 times the original amount ) so that I now have 200% of what I started with.

If I start in Reno with \$1000 and I finish with \$3000, I say "I tripled my money." I increased it by 200% (2 times the original amount) so that I now have 300% of what I started with.

If I start in Reno with \$1000 and finish with nothing, I am in the real world.
#16
11-02-2009, 07:35 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday Strictly speaking, it means your new efficiency is 42% * 104% = 43.68%. If your efficiency goes from 42 percent to 46 percent, then you have increased the efficiency by 4 points.
Depends on the way it's phrased.

Saying "efficiency has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 46%.

Saying "output has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 43.7%.
#17
11-02-2009, 07:57 AM
 billfish678 BANNED Join Date: Jun 2006 Posts: 16,681
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Reply Is a onefold increase the same as a twofold increase?
No, its 50 percent
#18
11-02-2009, 08:15 AM
 Serenata67 Guest Join Date: May 2009 Location: Titletown, USA Posts: 3,120
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ronald C. Semone If I start in Reno with \$1000 and I finish with \$2000, I say "I doubled my money." I increased it by 100% ( 1 times the original amount ) so that I now have 200% of what I started with. If I start in Reno with \$1000 and I finish with \$3000, I say "I tripled my money." I increased it by 200% (2 times the original amount) so that I now have 300% of what I started with. If I start in Reno with \$1000 and finish with nothing, I am in the real world.
So true.
#19
11-02-2009, 08:19 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix Depends on the way it's phrased. Saying "efficiency has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 46%. Saying "output has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 43.7%.
Why are you treating these two parameters (efficiency and output) differently when used in the same expression?

"X has increased by 4%" means that the new value of X is 104% of the old value of X, regardless of what you substitute for X.

Note that in this particular case, the mathematical relationship between output and efficiency does not alter things, either: if you increase output by 4%, you are increasing the numerator in the efficiency calculation by 4%, ergo your efficiency will also increase by 4%.
#20
11-02-2009, 08:20 AM
 Mogle Guest Join Date: Jun 2002 Location: Sweden Posts: 942
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix Depends on the way it's phrased. Saying "efficiency has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 46%. Saying "output has increased by 4%" would mean 42% to 43.7%.
An increase in output doesn't neccessarily mean an increase in efficiency, eg stepping harder on the gas pedal will increase an engine's output but not its efficiency.
#21
11-02-2009, 08:31 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday Why are you treating these two parameters (efficiency and output) differently when used in the same expression? "X has increased by 4%" means that the new value of X is 104% of the old value of X, regardless of what you substitute for X. Note that in this particular case, the mathematical relationship between output and efficiency does not alter things, either: if you increase output by 4%, you are increasing the numerator in the efficiency calculation by 4%, ergo your efficiency will also increase by 4%.
Because in the two expressions we're talking about percentages of different things.

For example assume your putting 100W of power into a machine. If it's only 42% efficient then the machine's producing 42W of power.

A 4% increase in efficiency is measured against the power put in so 4W.
A 4% increase in output is measured againt the 42W and so 1.7W.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Mogle An increase in output doesn't neccessarily mean an increase in efficiency, eg stepping harder on the gas pedal will increase an engine's output but not its efficiency.
Fair enough, I was assuming a constant input for purposes of the example.
#22
11-02-2009, 08:32 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday Why are you treating these two parameters (efficiency and output) differently when used in the same expression? "X has increased by 4%" means that the new value of X is 104% of the old value of X, regardless of what you substitute for X. Note that in this particular case, the mathematical relationship between output and efficiency does not alter things, either: if you increase output by 4%, you are increasing the numerator in the efficiency calculation by 4%, ergo your efficiency will also increase by 4%.
I just reread what you said. The 42% in both cases is the efficiency, as in the original example.
#23
11-02-2009, 08:37 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix A 4% increase in efficiency is measured against the power put in so 4W.
A 4% increase in efficiency is not measured against the power put in; it's measured against the old value of efficiency.

Percent change in X = ( NewX - OldX ) / OldX * 100%

This is true regardless of whether X is efficiency, power, or cheeseburgers.
#24
11-02-2009, 08:40 AM
 Animastryfe Guest Join Date: Jan 2008 Location: Vancouver, Manhattan Posts: 489
Quote:
 Originally Posted by DaveBfd I see it as (and Im sure EVERYONE else does) taking 42 and increasing it by 4. If there is a situation where you would need to know what an exact 4% increase of a number is, you had better damn well know you need that exact number.
No, not everyone does. I see the distinction between percentage points and just percent most commonly in political and economic contexts, and sometimes scientific ones.
#25
11-02-2009, 08:49 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday A 4% increase in efficiency is not measured against the power put in; it's measured against the old value of efficiency. Percent change in X = ( NewX - OldX ) / OldX * 100% This is true regardless of whether X is efficiency, power, or cheeseburgers.
Efficiency is already a percentage of the power put in.

If a machine goes from 42% efficient to 46% efficient then efficiency has increased by 4%.

The power output has increased by 9.5%.
#26
11-02-2009, 09:01 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix Efficiency is already a percentage of the power put in.
This is irrelevant. Don't make me stay up late.
#27
11-02-2009, 09:17 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
#28
11-02-2009, 09:46 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
#29
11-02-2009, 09:47 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
#30
11-02-2009, 09:53 AM
 ColdPhoenix Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: London Posts: 730

I know that going from 10% to 12% is a 20% increase.

I'm saying that going from 10% efficiency to 12% efficiency is a 2% increase in "efficiency" even though the "efficiency %" has increased 20%.

If you don't see that then we'll just have to agree to disagree.
#31
11-02-2009, 10:07 AM
 Machine Elf Guest Join Date: Feb 2007 Location: Challenger Deep Posts: 10,733
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix I'm saying that going from 10% efficiency to 12% efficiency is a 2% increase in "efficiency" even though the "efficiency %" has increased 20%.
The ambiguity embodied in your usage is the kind of thing that crashes rockets; this is why every engineer I've ever worked with, for clarity's sake, sticks to the usage I've described.

Why do you feel efficiency should be treated differently from any other percentage quantity, such as interest rate, or tax rate, or percentage of the population that are smokers?

Not that I regard Wikipedia as the final arbiter of truth, but why do you feel that Wikipedia is just plain wrong in this case?

Last edited by Machine Elf; 11-02-2009 at 10:08 AM.
#32
11-02-2009, 10:55 AM
 billfish678 BANNED Join Date: Jun 2006 Posts: 16,681
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Joe Frickin Friday The ambiguity embodied in your usage is the kind of thing that crashes rockets; this is why every engineer I've ever worked with, for clarity's sake, sticks to the usage I've described.
IME the really good ones state it in such a way that there CAN BE NO misinterpretation.

Assuming anyone on the other end will automatically be Spock is a recipe for disaster.

The system efficiency was increased 20 percent, resulting in a overall efficiency of 12 percent rather than the nominal efficieny of 10 percent.

Or some such bloviations.
#33
11-02-2009, 12:18 PM
 pan1 Guest Join Date: Sep 2009 Posts: 845
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Koxinga I'm a tad uncertain on this. I've always thought that when (say) \$100 increases threefold, that's equivalent to saying it increased to 3 x \$100 = \$300, which in percent terms would be +200%. But I've seen some people (non-native English speakers, FWIW) using a shorthand of "threefold" = "300%", which of course would yield a dollar figure of \$400, not \$300. Which is correct? (Or is my math screwed up either way?)
Actually both 200% and 300% = threefold - depending on how you apply the math.

Threefold \$100= \$300 = \$100 + 200%(of \$100) = 300% of \$100.
#34
11-02-2009, 04:08 PM
 hibernicus Charter Member Join Date: Oct 2000 Location: Dublin, Ireland Posts: 2,239
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ColdPhoenix Efficiency is already a percentage of the power put in. If a machine goes from 42% efficient to 46% efficient then efficiency has increased by 4%. The power output has increased by 9.5%.
Not really. Depending on why the efficiency has increased, the power output could have stayed the same, or increased or decreased by some other amount.

Until about a year ago I worked in performance testing of power plant. Precisely because of the potential for confusion highlighted in this thread, it is common to express differences in terms of heat rate (effectively, the inverse of efficiency). A 4% improvement in efficiency is ambiguous - a 4% improvement in heat rate is not.
#35
11-02-2009, 04:31 PM
 Irishman Guest Join Date: Dec 1999 Location: Houston, TX, USA Posts: 12,259
billfish678 said:
Quote:
 IME the really good ones state it in such a way that there CAN BE NO misinterpretation.
This. Percentages are already something that is not intuitive to most people. Add to that the ambiguity of the language, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Why talk about a percentage increase of a percentage value? Are you talking about the value increasing by a certain number, or changing by a percentage of the value it was at? Why risk someone misinterpreting?

State the original value and the final value, and don't worry about how much "percentage change" that is. Because if you state percentage change, 99% of the time the person is just going to need to convert that to the final value anyway. Skip the confusion, state the result.

"We were running at 42% efficiency, but we increased to 46%."
#36
11-03-2009, 02:38 PM
 Cardinal Charter Member Charter Member Join Date: Apr 1999 Location: 742 Evergreen Terrace Posts: 6,230
Does anyone know if the California car registration was increased by Grey Davis by a factor of 3 or 4? The goofball news media around here reported it as both a 3x increase and a 300% increase. I can't decide which way they misinterpreted it.
#37
11-04-2009, 01:58 AM
 BigT Guest Join Date: Aug 2008 Location: "Hicksville", Ark. Posts: 33,575
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Irishman billfish678 said: This. Percentages are already something that is not intuitive to most people. Add to that the ambiguity of the language, and you have a recipe for disaster. Why talk about a percentage increase of a percentage value? Are you talking about the value increasing by a certain number, or changing by a percentage of the value it was at? Why risk someone misinterpreting? State the original value and the final value, and don't worry about how much "percentage change" that is. Because if you state percentage change, 99% of the time the person is just going to need to convert that to the final value anyway. Skip the confusion, state the result. "We were running at 42% efficiency, but we increased to 46%."
In advertising and politics, sometimes confusion is the point. In these cases, pick the choice that shows the presenter in the worst light.
#38
11-04-2009, 04:30 AM
 Superhal Guest Join Date: Sep 2009 Location: The Internet. Since '84. Posts: 6,460
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Koxinga I'm a tad uncertain on this. I've always thought that when (say) \$100 increases threefold, that's equivalent to saying it increased to 3 x \$100 = \$300, which in percent terms would be +200%. But I've seen some people (non-native English speakers, FWIW) using a shorthand of "threefold" = "300%", which of course would yield a dollar figure of \$400, not \$300. Which is correct? (Or is my math screwed up either way?)
If something triples in size, it's now 200% bigger than it used to be.
#39
11-04-2009, 04:41 AM
 Koxinga Guest Join Date: Sep 1999 Location: Zeelandia Posts: 9,652
My question was more one of English usage than of math per se. I'm just wondering how "a threefold increase" is commonly understood.

Myself, I tell people it's up 20,000 basis points.
#40
11-04-2009, 04:42 AM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Savannah, GA Posts: 4,894
Quote:
 Originally Posted by BigT In advertising and politics, sometimes confusion is the point. In these cases, pick the choice that shows the presenter in the worst light.
Absolutely. The party raising taxes from 30% to 33% will say they are raising by 3%; their opponents will say they are raising taxes by 10%
#41
11-04-2009, 07:34 AM
 bengangmo Guest Join Date: Oct 2008 Posts: 4,823
Quote:
 Originally Posted by blueninja I'd say the difference is if you say it "increased by x%" or "increased to x%". If you say it increased by 200% you'd get threefold. If you say it increased to 300% (of its original value) you get threefold. That's my crazy non-native English speaker rationale.
Ha! The other day on the radio here something was referred to as having been DECREASED by 300% - as in its 300% smaller than its original size
#42
11-04-2009, 07:40 AM
 bengangmo Guest Join Date: Oct 2008 Posts: 4,823
Quote:
 Originally Posted by ZenBeam What's really fun is when you're dealing with something already expressed in percent. The nominal efficiency is 42 percent, but we've increased it by 4 percent. Ummmm, what does that mean?
Forget the math, I would love to know what efficiency means when its a percentage? Is it capacity, output as a measure of input, output vs potential output or some other combination?
#43
11-04-2009, 09:41 AM
 pan1 Guest Join Date: Sep 2009 Posts: 845
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Koxinga My question was more one of English usage than of math per se. I'm just wondering how "a threefold increase" is commonly understood. Myself, I tell people it's up 20,000 basis points.
Assume multiplication if its not clearly stated.

Threefold = 3x by default. Not x+3x.

Increased Threefold = tripled.
Increased Twofold = doubled.
#44
11-04-2009, 10:03 PM
 j_sum1 Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: Other side of the ditch Posts: 1,521
Percentages are a minefield of ambiguities. This is because they are the ratio of a quanitity compared with some base line but in everyday speech that baseline is usually implied and seldom explicitly stated. Furthermore it is quite possible for that baseline to change even when describing the same situation. For example - prices rose by 20% but later dropped by 20%.
It is one of many situations where the common vernacular is not precise enough to describe a mathematical concept. With careful phrasing most ambiguities can be eliminated, but this is not how most people speak or write.
It helps little that politicians, the media and advertisers exploit this ambiguity to present themselves in a better light.
#45
11-04-2009, 11:08 PM
 Alex_Dubinsky BANNED Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: New York City Posts: 2,859
Is it time for me to introduce my idea of... e-cents!

It's just like percents... except it's natural logarithms. We all love logs, right? Well, although base-e logs may be less logical for large values (vs base-2, ie "doublings," or base-10, ie "orders of magnitude"), for small values they line up with percents. E.g., 1.02x increase is 2% or 2 e%. Things diverge a bit for larger values, tho, so 1.5x is 40e% and 3x is 110e%

Advantages: 2x more and 2x less is 100% and 50% respectively, but it's the same value in e-cents! If you increase something by 20e% then decrease is by 20e%, you get back the same value! And there's no confusion as experience by the OP: it wouldn't make sense for e-cents.

Even the 42%->46% problem is avoided!
42% efficiency is actually 0.42 (not 1.42, etc.), hence it is precisely -86e%
46% efficiency is 0.46, and so -77e%
46/42 is 1.095, and so is 9e%

YES!

Last edited by Alex_Dubinsky; 11-04-2009 at 11:12 PM.
#46
11-04-2009, 11:53 PM
 bengangmo Guest Join Date: Oct 2008 Posts: 4,823
Gah - I saw it in the papers today.

A four fold decrease in consumption....
#47
11-13-2009, 05:23 PM
 Irishman Guest Join Date: Dec 1999 Location: Houston, TX, USA Posts: 12,259
Cardinal said:
Quote:
 Does anyone know if the California car registration was increased by Grey Davis by a factor of 3 or 4? The goofball news media around here reported it as both a 3x increase and a 300% increase.
Does that mean an increase to 3x or by 3x? Because by 3x is a 300% increase.

bengangmo said:
Quote:
 Forget the math, I would love to know what efficiency means when its a percentage? Is it capacity, output as a measure of input, output vs potential output or some other combination?
Yes. I think it's case specific. Contextual to that particular term.
#48
11-14-2009, 07:23 AM
 hibernicus Charter Member Join Date: Oct 2000 Location: Dublin, Ireland Posts: 2,239
Quote:
 Originally Posted by bengangmo Forget the math, I would love to know what efficiency means when its a percentage? Is it capacity, output as a measure of input, output vs potential output or some other combination?
When talking about energy conversion (such as in an engine, a motor, a boiler, a turbine or a pump), it's an expression of useful energy output divided by energy input.

For example, an electric motor may use 100W of electricity, and deliver 95W of shaft power, giving an efficiency of 95%. The remaining 5% is lost as heat to the environment.

In some cases, you may need to further specify the energy input term as "energy input that you pay for", so as to exclude energy that is taken "free" from the environment.
#49
11-14-2009, 07:35 PM
 Alex_Dubinsky BANNED Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: New York City Posts: 2,859
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Irishman Does that mean an increase to 3x or by 3x? Because by 3x is a 300% increase.
I've never heard this. 3x is always a multiplication. That's why the fn x is there.
#50
11-18-2009, 04:50 PM
 Irishman Guest Join Date: Dec 1999 Location: Houston, TX, USA Posts: 12,259
It's the ambiguity flexibility of language over the strictness of mathematics.

3x is multiply by 3.

Increase to 3x is to multiply by 3, or increase to 300%.

Increase by 3x is to multiply by 3, then add that to the original, or increase by 300%.

Friggin' words.

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