The Celsius temperature scale was previously known as the centigrade scale. The degree Celsius (symbol: °C) can refer to a specific temperature on the Celsius scale as well as serve as a unit increment to indicate a temperature interval (a difference between two temperatures or an uncertainty). "Celsius" is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701–1744), who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death.
From 1744 until 1954, 0 °C on the Celsius scale was defined as the freezing point of water and 100 °C was defined as the boiling point of water under a pressure of one standard atmosphere; this close equivalency is taught in schools today. However, the unit "degree Celsius" and the Celsius scale are currently, by international agreement, defined by two different points: absolute zero, and the triple point of VSMOW (specially prepared water). This definition also precisely relates the Celsius scale to the Kelvin scale, which is the SI base unit of temperature (symbol: K). Absolute zero—the temperature at which no energy remains in a substance—is defined as being precisely 0 K and −273.15 °C. The triple point of water is defined as being precisely 273.16 K and 0.01 °C.
This definition fixes the magnitude of both the degree Celsius and the unit kelvin as being precisely 1 part in 273.16 parts the difference between absolute zero and the triple point of water. Thus, it sets the magnitude of one degree Celsius and the kelvin to be exactly equivalent. Additionally, it establishes the difference between the two scales' null points as being precisely 273.15 degrees Celsius (−273.15 °C = 0 K and 0.01 °C = 273.16 K).