# Section 3.1 Measures of Central Tendency: Mode, Median, and Mean

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1 Section 3.1 Measures of Central Tendency: Mode, Median, and Mean One number can be used to describe the entire sample or population. Such a number is called an average. There are many ways to compute averages, but we will study only three of the major ones. The easiest average to compute is the mode. The mode of a data set is the value that occurs most frequently. Not every data set has a mode. For example, if Professor Fair gives equal numbers of A s, B s, C s, D s, and F s, then there is no modal grade. Another average that is useful is the median, or central value, of an ordered distribution. The median uses the position rather than the specific value of each data entry. If the extreme values of a data set change, the median usually does not change. This is why the median is often used as the average for house prices. If one mansion costing several million dollars sells in a community of much-lowerpriced homes, the median selling price for houses in the community would be affected very little, if at all. Page 1 of 18

2 For small ordered data sets, we can easily scan the set to find the location of the median. However, for large ordered data sets of size n, it is convenient to have a formula to find the middle of the data set. For instance, if n = 99 then the middle value is the (99 +1)/2 or 50th data value in the ordered data. If n = 100, then ( )/2 = 50.5 tells us that the two middle values are in the 50th and 51st positions. An average that uses the exact value of each entry is the mean (sometimes called the arithmetic mean). To compute the mean, we add the values of all the entries and then divide by the number of entries. The mean is the average usually used to compute a test average. Page 2 of 18

3 The symbol for the mean of a sample distribution of x values is denoted by (read x bar ). If your data comprise the entire population, we use the symbol µ (lowercase Greek letter mu, pronounced mew ) to represent the mean. Example 1 How hot does it get in Death Valley? The following data are taken from a study conducted by the National Park System, of which Death Valley is a unit. The ground temperatures ( ) were taken from May to November in the vicinity of Furnace Creek Compute the mean, median, and mode for these ground temperatures. Page 3 of 18

4 We have seen three averages: the mode, the median, and the mean. For later work, the mean is the most important. A disadvantage of the mean, however, is that it can be affected by exceptional values. A resistant measure is one that is not influenced by extremely high or low data values. The mean is not a resistant measure of center because we can make the mean as large as we want by changing the size of only one data value. The median, on the other hand, is more resistant. However, a disadvantage of the median is that it is not sensitive to the specific size of a data value. A measure of center that is more resistant than the mean but still sensitive to specific data values is the trimmed mean. A trimmed mean is the mean of the data values left after trimming a specified percentage of the smallest and largest data values from the data set. In general, when a data distribution is mound-shaped symmetrical, the values for the mean, median, and mode are the same or almost the same. For skewed-left distributions, the mean is less than the median and the median is less than the mode. For skewed-right distributions, the mode is the smallest value, the median is the next largest, and the mean is the largest. Page 4 of 18

5 Figure 3-1, shows the general relationships among the mean, median, and mode for different types of distributions. Example 2 How expensive is Maui? The Maui News gave the following costs in dollars per day for a random sample of condominiums located throughout the island of Maui (a) Compute the mean, median, and mode for the data. (b) Compute a 5% trimmed mean for the data, and compare it with the mean computed in part (a). Does the trimmed mean more accurately reflect the general level of the daily rental costs? (c) If you were a travel agent and a client asked about the daily cost of renting a condominium on Maui, what average would you use? Explain. Is there any other information about the costs that you think might be useful, such as the spread of the costs? Page 5 of 18

6 Weighted Average Sometimes we wish to average numbers, but we want to assign more importance, or weight, to some of the numbers. For instance, suppose your professor tells you that your grade will be based on a midterm and a final exam, each of which is based on 100 possible points. However, the final exam will be worth 60% of the grade and the midterm only 40%. How could you determine an average score that would reflect these different weights? The average you need is the weighted average. Example 3 At General Hospital, nurses are given performance evaluations to determine eligibility for merit pay raises. The supervisor rates the nurses on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest rating) for several activities: promptness, record keeping, appearance, and bedside manner with patients. Then an average is determined by giving a weight of 2 for promptness, 3 for record keeping, 1 for appearance, and 4 for bedside manner with patients. What is the average rating for a nurse with ratings of 9 for promptness, 7 for record keeping, 6 for appearance, and 10 for bedside manner? Page 6 of 18

7 Section 3.2 Measures of Variation An average is an attempt to summarize a set of data using just one number. As some of our examples have shown, an average taken by itself may not always be very meaningful. The range is the difference between the largest and smallest values of a data distribution. Variance and Standard Deviation We need a measure of the distribution or spread of data around an expected value (either x or µ ). Variance and standard deviation provide such measures. In statistics, the sample standard deviation and sample variance are used to describe the spread of data about the mean x. As you will discover, for hand calculations, the computation formulas for s 2 and s are much easier to use. However, the defining formulas for s 2 and s emphasize the fact that the variance and standard deviation are based on the differences between each data value and the mean. Page 7 of 18

8 In the formulas for s and σ, we use n 1 to compute s and N to compute σ. Why? The reason is that N (capital letter) represents the population size, whereas n (lowercase letter) represents the sample size. Since a random sample usually will not contain extreme data values (large or small), we divide by n 1 in the formula for s to make s a little larger than it would have been had we divided by n. In fact, s is called the unbiased estimate for σ. If we have the population of all data values, then extreme data values are, of course, present, so we divide by N instead of N 1. Page 8 of 18

9 Example 4 Given the sample data: x: (a) Find the range. (b) Verify that =110 and =2568. (c) Use the results of part (b) and appropriate computation formulas to compute the sample variance and sample standard deviation. (d) Use the defining formulas to compute the sample variance and sample standard deviation. (e) Suppose the given data comprise the entire population of all x values. Compute the population variance and population standard deviation. Page 9 of 18

10 Coefficient of Variation A disadvantage of the standard deviation as a comparative measure of variation is that it depends on the units of measurement. This means that it is difficult to use the standard deviation to compare measurements from different populations. For this reason, statisticians have defined the coefficient of variation, which expresses the standard deviation as a percentage of the sample or population mean. Page 10 of 18

11 Example 5 For mallard ducks and Canada geese, what percentage of nests are successful (at least one offspring survives)? Studies in Montana, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, and California gave the following percentages of successful nests. x: Percentage success for mallard duck nests y: Percentage success for Canada goose nests (a) Use a calculator to verify that =245; =14,755; =224; and =12,070. (b) Use the results of part (a) to compute the sample mean, variance, and standard deviation for x, the percent of successful mallard nests. (c) Use the results of part (a) to compute the sample mean, variance, and standard deviation for y, the percent of successful Canada goose nests. (d) Use the results of parts (b) and (c) to compute the coefficient of variation for successful mallard nests and Canada goose nests. Write a brief explanation of the meaning of these numbers. What do these results say about the nesting success rates for mallards compared to Canada geese? Would you say one group of data is more or less consistent than the other? Explain. Page 11 of 18

12 Chebyshev s Theorem However, the concept of data spread about the mean can be expressed quite generally for all data distributions (skewed, symmetric, or other shapes) by using the remarkable theorem of Chebyshev. The results of Chebyshev s theorem can be derived by using the theorem and a little arithmetic. For instance, if we create an interval k = 2 standard deviations on either side of the mean, Chebyshev s theorem tells us that is the minimum percentage of data in the µ 2σ to µ + 2µ interval. Notice that Chebyshev s theorem refers to the minimum percentage of data that must fall within the specified number of standard deviations of the mean. Page 12 of 18

13 If the distribution is mound-shaped, an even greater percentage of data will fall into the specified intervals. One indicator that a data value might be an outlier is that it is more than 2.5 standard deviations from the mean. Example 6 Use the information in Example 5 to compute a 75% Chebyshev interval about the mean for x values and also for y values. Use the intervals to compare the two funds. Using Technology TI-84 Plus/TI-83 Plus Press STAT CALC 1:1-Var Stats. is the sample standard deviation. is the population standard deviation. Page 13 of 18

14 Section 3.3 Percentiles and Box-and-Whisker Plots We ve seen measures of central tendency and spread for a set of data. The arithmetic mean x and the standard deviation s will be very useful in later work. However, because they each utilize every data value, they can be heavily influenced by one or two extreme data values. In cases where our data distributions are heavily skewed or even bimodal, we often get a better summary of the distribution by utilizing relative position of data rather than exact values. In Figure 3-3, we see the 60th percentile marked on a histogram. We see that 60% of the data lie below the mark and 40% lie above it. Page 14 of 18

15 There are 99 percentiles, and in an ideal situation, the 99 percentiles divide the data set into 100 equal parts. (See Figure 3-4.) However, if the number of data elements is not exactly divisible by 100, the percentiles will not divide the data into equal parts. There are several widely used conventions for finding percentiles. They lead to slightly different values for different situations, but these values are close together. For all conventions, the data are first ranked or ordered from smallest to largest. A natural way to find the Pth percentile is to then find a value such that P% of the data fall at or below it. This will not always be possible, so we take the nearest value satisfying the criterion. It is at this point that there is a variety of processes to determine the exact value of the percentile. However, quartiles are special percentiles used so frequently that we want to adopt a specific procedure for their computation. Quartiles are those percentiles that divide the data into fourths. The first quartile Q 1 is the 25th percentile, the second quartile Q 2 is the median, and the third quartile Q 3 is the 75th percentile. (See Figure 3-5.) Page 15 of 18

16 Again, several conventions are used for computing quartiles, but the convention on next page utilizes the median and is widely adopted. In short, all we do to find the quartiles is find three medians. The median, or second quartile, is a popular measure of the center utilizing relative position. A useful measure of data spread utilizing relative position is the interquartile range (IQR). It is simply the difference between the third and first quartiles. Interquartile range = Q 3 Q 1 The interquartile range tells us the spread of the middle half of the data. Now let s look at an example to see how to compute all of these quantities. Page 16 of 18

17 Box-and-Whisker Plots The quartiles together with the low and high data values give us a very useful fivenumber summary of the data and their spread. We will use these five numbers to create a graphic sketch of the data called a boxand-whisker plot. Box-and-whisker plots provide another useful technique from exploratory data analysis (EDA) for describing data. Using Technology TI-84 Plus/TI-83 Plus Press STAT CALC 1:1-Var Stats. When you arrow down, you will see the Five-number summary. Press STATPLOT On. Highlight box plot. Use Trace and arrow keys to display the values of the five-number summary. Hit ZOOM 9: ZoomStat to automatically adjust the window to fit your data. Make sure to clear any functions in Y= before trying to graph. Page 17 of 18

18 Example 7 At Center Hospital there is some concern about the high turnover of nurses. A survey was done to determine how long (in months) nurses had been in their current positions. The responses (in months) of 20 nurses were Make a box-and-whisker plot of the data. Find the interquartile range. Page 18 of 18

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