Is Distance Continuous Or Discrete: 9 Important Facts

Distance is basically the amount of length a body has traveled in a given time. Let us discuss whether is distance continuous or discrete.

Distance, as known by facts, is a continuous data type, the reason being that the distance has values that range from time to time at any given interval. Also, distance cannot be discrete because the values do not remain constant.

Distance is a measure of the amount of length which has been covered by an object in motion. Let us discuss several facts that provide us with information regarding how and why distance can be discrete or continuous.

Continuous Data Type

Continuous data types are used when we require the values to be in sequential format. Now let us see what continuous data type is with an example.

The continuous data type is basically the values that do not hold the exact numerical interval between any two measurements. Generally, the continuous data types do not consist of whole numbers always, they carry integers, decimal numbers, negative integer values and so on.

For example the distance between Coonoor to Coimbatore is 68.8 which is a decimal number and shows out to be a continuous data type.

Discrete Data Type

Discrete data type is used when the values must be a fixed one. Let us find out the meaning along with the example in this section.

The discrete data type can be defined as the values which will not vary even with time, these values are finite, discrete and has no negative values. Discrete data type is complete opposite to that of the continuous data type, where the values of measurement are always a positive integer.

The discrete data type consists of values which gives exact result. For example the number of students present in a class for an study was found to be 25 and this number is an integer that proves to be discrete data type.

Is distance continuous or discrete quantity?

In mathematics distance is a line segment that connects any two given points. Let us find out whether distance is continuous or discrete.

Distance is a continuous quantity because it has numeric values that is sometimes unspecified and also is negative but discrete is always a positive integer. Distance cannot be calculated one by one and so it comes under the continuous quantity.

Why distance is continuous quantity?

In physics distance is the amount of ground covered by the object during its motion. Let us see why distance is continuous quantity.

Distance is continuous quantity as there are no possible precise values and can take up to any number of value range between two measurements. Distance is categorized under the continuous quantity as its values are technically not countable.

How distance is continuous quantity?

Distance measures the amount of length covered and it uses millimeter, kilometer as the unit. Lets us see how distance is continuous quantity.

Distance is said to be a continuous quantity when distance or speed relatively vary. Consider a batsman hitting a ball at a particular speed and the distance covered by the ball would vary every time he hits and also varies for every other batsman.

Here the ball is said to have travelled certain amount of distance which does not remain a constant for every other hit which proves to be a continuous quantity.

Can distance be discrete quantity?

Distance is a scalar quantity, it is the total transition of an object regardless of direction. Let us see the possibility of distance being discrete or continuous quantity.

Distance is always considered a continuous quantity as the values are random variables changes with time. For instance, we cannot mention a specific set of values for distance when two bodies are compared, so in this way, it is known why distance cannot be a discrete quantity.

Also, the distance has values that fall in a sequence pattern similar to that of continuous quantity.

Example of distance as continuous quantity

We know that distance is a continuous quantity with a sequence of numeric values that always change. Let us see the examples contributing to distance being continuous quantity.

Distance Between Cars

For instance, when two cars are in motion at a given time, we need to know the length covered by it, so the value will not be the same as each car will have its own speed and will cover the distance accordingly. It shows that the distance is a continuous quantity because it renders a sequence of values for every specified interval of time.

Baseball Player

A baseball player gives a hit by which the ball travels a certain distance, and this value is sequential also up to a certain range. The reason is that there are no fixed numbers in a continuous quantity, and so is the distance traveled by the ball. So how far the ball travels until it falls on the ground is the continuous quantity: the distance.

Simple Pendulum

In physics simple pendulum basically is categorized under the mechanical system which oscillates in a continuous motion. Here the values are not specific due to constant oscillation. The pendulum bob is generally displaced from the initial point and travels to the final point so the distance falls under the range of values between two points which is a continuous quantity.

How to measure distance of an object in a motion?

An object’s distance is regarded as the length from the initial to the final point of an interval. Let us find out distance using a formula.

Measurement of distance for an object in motion takes into account speed and time where the general formula for distance is given by; Distance (meter) = Time (seconds) X Speed (meter/second). The dimensional formula for distance is given by M0L1T0 where, M is meter, L is length and T is time.


Distance is a continuous quantity having a sequence of values up to a particular value that does not remain constant. Also, the distance being a scalar quantity will have values that have no impact regarding the direction. Continuous quantity holds values that always remain as a variable.

Read more about Is Distance Always Positive?

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