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(from http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2005/2005-12-09/labtips/index.html)

Mental Conversion Algorithms

If we use as multipliers 2 (instead of 9/5) and ½ (instead of 5/9) in the AMS conversion algorithms, we will only be introducing about 10% error, and this change of multipliers will make the calculations simple enough that the conversions can be made mentally.

Although the amount of error introduced by the use of these approximate multipliers is only about 10%, the amount of error in the final answer will sometimes be a much greater percentage. Thus it is desirable to include a correction term into the calculations. The mental AMS conversion algorithms involve the use of a correction term to obtain a highly accurate final answer.

The mental AMS algorithm for conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius is the following:

1. Add 40 to the Fahrenheit Temperature.

2. Multiply this sum by ½.

3. Add 10%

4. Subtract 40 to obtain the equivalent Celsius temperature.

The mental AMS algorithm for conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit is the following:

1. Add 40 to the Celsius Temperature.

2. Multiply this sum by 2.

3. Subtract 10%

4. Subtract 40 to obtain the equivalent Fahrenheit temperature.

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