Q:

What is scale factor?

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Quick Answer

A scale factor represents the ratio of two corresponding lengths in similar geometric shapes. Two shapes must be similar for the scale factor between the two of them to be a relevant ratio. To compute the scale factor, one should divide the length of one shape's side by the corresponding length of the other shape's side.

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What is scale factor?
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Full Answer

Scale factors are used as ratios to compare shapes in one, two or three dimensions, according to I Coach Math. For example, calculating scale factor applies to lines, polygons and volume figures. The scale factor from the larger shape to the smaller shape is a ratio between zero and one; when multiplying lengths of the larger shape by the scale factor, the smaller shape is formed. Squaring the scale factor results in the ratio of areas between two similar two-dimensional shapes. Similarly, cubing the scale factor results in the ratio of volumes of similar three-dimensional shapes.

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