Absolute Change Calculator

Created by Dajana Samuels
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD and Rijk de Wet
Last updated: Jan 16, 2023

Whenever you need to measure an exact numerical change between two numbers, Omni's absolute change calculator is a tool that can help you speed up the computations. Few people realize that, according to the absolute change formula, the absolute change can be positive or negative. Read the following article to learn more about what absolute change is and why we use it!

Knowing how to find absolute change may be essential in many situations, such as:

  • Calculating the cost of purchasing items from different locations;
  • Determining how much an investment has been made or lost; or
  • Simply finding the absolute difference in ages between two people.

🙋 If you're interested in the last example, be sure to check the age difference calculator, which is specifically created for that purpose.

What is an absolute change?

An absolute change (also known as the absolute difference) indicates the exact numerical difference between two numbers. It is the difference between the two numbers and considers whether the change is positive or negative. We write more about it in the last section titled "Can absolute change be negative?".

The completely opposite concept to absolute change is the percentage, which we've already described in our other tools. Check the percentage change calculator to see how to use percentages to express the increase or decrease of a value — it can therefore be positive or negative, similarly to absolute change. In contrast, in the percentage difference calculator, we explained the way of comparing two numbers without taking into account the sign of the final result.

How to find the absolute change

To find the absolute change, use the following absolute change formula:

X=baX= b - a

where:

  • XX is the absolute change;
  • aa is the initial value; and
  • bb is the final value.

The three steps below explain how to find absolute change by hand:

  1. Determine the initial value from which you want to calculate the change;
  2. Pick the final value;
  3. Then, calculate the absolute change by subtracting the beginning value from the ending value.

You can use our subtraction calculator or long subtraction calculator to take the last step. In the latter, you can also remind yourself how to subtract two large numbers on a paper.

Absolute change formula in practice

The concept of absolute change is everywhere and can be used to solve many problems! For instance, if you want to find out how much money an economic growth generates, subtract how much capital it started with from how much money it ended up. This way, you will know its economic growth. Let's say you had $5,000, and now you have $5,500. The initial and final values are $5,000 and $5,500, respectively. To find the absolute change, subtract $5,000 from $5,500 to get your result. In this case, the absolute change equals $500.

In the same way, you can use the absolute change calculator to find out the difference in cost when purchasing items from different locations. For instance, you can compare the cost of a product at two different stores and find out which one is cheaper.

Can absolute change be negative?

It's important to note that absolute change can be negative. For example, if you started with $100 and ended up with $90, the absolute change would be -$10, which is a negative change.

However, it is crucial to remember that an absolute negative change does not necessarily indicate a bad outcome! For example, if you were measuring the temperature change, an absolute negative change would indicate a decrease in temperature, which may be desired in certain situations. Similarly, if you are measuring the change in weight loss, an absolute negative change would indicate a weight loss, which is certainly what you aimed for.

The absolute change formula and calculator can also help in:

  • Statistics;
  • Data analysis; and
  • Finance.

For example, it can be used to calculate the difference between the mean and median of a dataset, or the standard error.

In conclusion, the absolute change calculator is a valuable tool for measuring the exact numerical difference between two numbers. Whether you're calculating economic growth, comparing prices, or determining investment returns, the absolute change formula can help you find the necessary information.

With the ability to handle positive and negative changes and provide a clear, concise answer, it's a great way to make informed decisions in various fields.

Dajana Samuels
Initial value
Final value
Absolute change
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