The SI prefixes are standardized for use in the International System of Units (SI) by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in resolutions dating from 1960 to 1991. Since 2009, they have formed part of the International System of Quantities. The BIPM specifies twenty prefixes for the International System of Units (SI). Each prefix name has a symbol that is used in combination with the symbols for units of measure. For example, the symbol for kilo- is 'k', and is used to produce 'km', 'kg', and 'kW', which are the SI symbols for kilometre, kilogram, and kilowatt, respectively.
Prefixes corresponding to an integer power of one thousand are generally preferred. Hence 100 m is preferred over 1 hm (hectometre) or 10 dam (decametres). The prefixes hecto, deca, deci, and centi are commonly used for everyday purposes, and the centimetre (cm) is especially common. However, some modern building codes require that the millimetre be used in preference to the centimetre, because "use of centimetres leads to extensive usage of decimal points and confusion". Prefixes may not be used in combination. This also applies to mass, for which the SI base unit (kilogram) already contains a prefix. For example, milligram (mg) is used instead of microkilogram.
In the arithmetic of measurements having units, the units are treated as multiplicative factors to values. If they have prefixes, all but one of the prefixes must be expanded to their numeric multiplier, except when combining values with identical units. When units occur in exponentiation, for example, in square and cubic forms, the multiplication prefix must be considered part of the unit, and thus included in the exponentiation. (Source: Wikipedia)
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