Point of Beginning

The nature of surveying

May 16, 2008

 Posted By Jim Fleming on 5/15/2008 at 7:48 PM
 
In the "Boundary Question" thread from earlier today, the following was posted by Old Surveyor:
"I am a believer that our Profession is an exact science....we have been measuring very accurately for decades now... "
 
I was curious how many people would classify Land Surveying as an exact science.
The way I see it, we use the science of measurement in the gathering of evidence; then we use a witches brew of stautatory law, common law and common sense to evaluate the evidence and render a professional opinion. Or, as I once heard it put, we walk in the footsteps of the original surveyor to gaither evidence of where he tread; then we walk in the footsteps of the courts to decide how to view that evidence.
 
I'm not even sure I'd even say that the science of measurement is exact. If I see a recent plat that reports a distance along a property line as 526.89', and I know from the terrain that the original surveyor probably had two or three intermediate traverse stations between the corners; then while a layman may read 526.89', I read 526.89' +/- 0.03' at a confidence level of two sigma. (more or less, you get the idea).
Based on our professions commmon knowledge base we have sort of an infered measurement metadata. A number reflecting a measurement on it's own without any concept of the level of precision or it's repeatablity doesn't do me any good. I'd insert a quote from the introduction to Ghilani & Wolf's Adjustment Computations here, but it's back at the office.
 
So, what say you, is surveying an exact science?
 
Jim (Young Whipper Snapper Surveyor)