Statistics have become an important part of everyday life. We are confronted by them in newspapers and magazines, on television and in general conversations. We encounter them when we discuss the cost of living, unemployment, medical breakthroughs, weather predictions, sports, politics and the state lottery. Although we are not always aware of it, each of us is an informal statistician. We are constantly gathering, organizing and analyzing information and using this data to make judgments and decisions that will affect our actions.
Statistics is a branch of mathematics in which groups of measurements or observations are studied. The subject is divided into two general categories� descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. In descriptive statistics one deals with methods used to collect, organize and analyze numerical facts. Its primary concern is to describe information gathered through observation in an understandable and usable manner. Similarities and patterns among people, things and events in the world around us are emphasized. Inferential statistics takes data collected from relatively small groups of a population and uses inductive reasoning to make generalizations, inferences and predictions about a wider population.
Throughout the study of statistics certain basic terms occur frequently. Some of the more commonly used terms are defined below:
A population is a complete set of items that is being studied. It includes all members of the set. The set may refer to people, objects or measurements that have a common characteristic. Examples of a population are all high school students, all cats, all scholastic aptitude test scores.
A relatively small group of items selected from a population is a sample. If every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected for the sample, it is called a random sample. Examples of a sample are all algebra students at Central High School, or all Siamese cats.
Data are numbers or measurements that are collected. Data may include numbers of individuals that make up the census of a city, ages of pupils in a certain class, temperatures in a town during a given period of time, sales made by a company, or test scores made by ninth graders on a standardized test.
Variables are characteristics or attributes that enable us to distinguish one individual from another. They take on different values when different individuals are observed. Some variables are height, weight, age and price. Variables are the opposite of constants whose values never change.
Four tests results: 15, 18, 22, 20
The sum is: 75
Divide 75 by 4: 18.75
The 'Mean' (Average) is 18.75
(Often rounded to 19)
2) The Median
The Median is the 'middle value' in your list. When the totals of the list are odd, the median is the middle entry in the list after sorting the list into increasing order. When the totals of the list are even, the median is equal to the sum of the two middle (after sorting the list into increasing order) numbers divided by two. Thus, remember to line up your values, the middle number is the median! Be sure to remember the odd and even rule.Examples:
Find the Median of: 9, 3, 44, 17, 15 (Odd amount of numbers)
Line up your numbers: 3, 9, 15, 17, 44 (smallest to largest)
The Median is: 15 (The number in the middle)
Find the Median of: 8, 3, 44, 17, 12, 6 (Even amount of numbers)
Line up your numbers: 3, 6, 8, 12, 17, 44
Add the 2 middles numbers and divide by 2: 8 12 = 20 ÷ 2 = 10
The Median is 10.
3) The Mode
The mode in a list of numbers refers to the list of numbers that occur most frequently. A trick to remember this one is to remember that mode starts with the same first two letters that most does. Most frequently - Mode. You'll never forget that one!
Find the mode of:
9, 3, 3, 44, 17 , 17, 44, 15, 15, 15, 27, 40, 8,
Put the numbers is order for ease:
3, 3, 8, 9, 15, 15, 15, 17, 17, 27, 40, 44, 44,
The Mode is 15 (15 occurs the most at 3 times)
*It is important to note that there can be more than one mode and if no number occurs more than once in the set, then there is no mode for that set of numbers.
Ocasionally in Statistics you'll be asked for the 'range' in a set of numbers. The range is simply the the smallest number subtracted from the largest number in your set. Thus, if your set is 9, 3, 44, 15, 6 - The range would be 44-3=41. Your range is 41.