11.6: Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion
The majority of this textbook centers upon twovariable data, data with an input and an output. This is also known as bivariate data. There are many types of situations in which only one set of data is given. This data is known as univariate data. Unlike data you have seen before, no rule can be written relating univariate data. Instead, other methods are used to analyze the data. Three such methods are the measures of central tendency.
Measures of central tendency are the center values of a data set.
 Mean is the average of all the data. Its symbol is
x¯ .  Mode is the data value appearing most often in the data set.
 Median is the middle value of the data set, arranged in ascending order.
Example: Mrs. Kramer collected the scores from her students test and obtained the following data:
90, 76, 53, 78, 88, 80, 81, 91, 99, 68, 62, 78, 67, 82, 88, 89, 78, 72, 77, 96, 93, 88, 88
Find the mean, median, mode, and range of this data.
Solution:
 To find the mean, add all the values and divide by the number of pieces you added.
 To find the mode, look for the value(s) repeating the most.
 To find the median, organize the data from least to greatest. Then find the middle value.
53, 62, 62, 67, 68, 72, 76, 77, 78, 78, 78, 78, 80, 81, 82, 88, 88, 88, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 96, 99
 To find the range, subtract the highest value and the lowest value.
When a data set has two modes, it is bimodal.
If the data does not have a “middle value,” the median is the average of the two middle values. This occurs when data sets have an even number of entries.
Which Measure Is Best?
While the mean, mode, and median represent centers of data, one is usually more beneficial than another when describing a particular data set.
For example, if the data has a wide range, the median is a better choice to describe the center than the mean.
 The income of a population is described using the median, because there are very low and very high incomes in one given region.
If the data were categorical, meaning it can be separated into different categories, the mode may be a better choice.
 If a sandwich shop sold ten different sandwiches, the mode would be useful to describe the favorite sandwich.
Measures of Dispersion
In statistics, measures of dispersion describe how spread apart the data is from the measure of center. There are three main types of dispersion:
 Range  difference between highest and lowest values in data
 Variance
 Standard deviation
Variance is the mean of the squares of the distance each data item
The symbol for variance is
Example: Find the variance for the following data: 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26.
Solution: First find the mean
It’s easier to create a table of the differences and their squares.




11  –7  49 
13  –5  25 
14  –4  16 
15  –3  9 
19  1  1 
22  4  16 
24  6  36 
26  8  64 
Compute the variance:
The variance is a measure of the dispersion and its value is lower for tightly grouped data than for widely spread data. In the example above, the variance is 27. What does it mean to say that tightly grouped data will have a low variance? You can probably already imagine that the size of the variance also depends on the size of the data itself. Below we see ways that mathematicians have tried to standardize the variance.
The Standard Deviation
Standard deviation measures how closely the data clusters around the mean. It is the square root of the variance. Its symbol is
Example 1: Calculate the standard deviation of the previous data set.
Solution: The standard deviation is the square root of the variance.
Multimedia Link: Watch this http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=53143&title=How_to_Calculate_the_Standard_Deviation_of_a_Sample  Teacher Tube video for more help with standard deviation and variance.
Example: Find the mean, median, mode, range, variance, and standard deviation of the data set below.
Address  Sale Price 

518 CLEVELAND AVE  $117,424 
1808 MARKESE AVE  $128,000 
1770 WHITE AVE  $132,485 
1459 LINCOLN AVE  $77,900 
1462 ANNE AVE  $60,000 
2414 DIX HWY  $250,000 
1523 ANNE AVE  $110,205 
1763 MARKESE AVE  $70,000 
1460 CLEVELAND AVE  $111,710 
1478 MILL ST  $102,646 
Solution:
Use a table to find variance.




117,424  1387  1,923,769 
128,000  11,963  143,113,369 
132,485  16,448  270,536,704 
77,900  –38,137  1,454,430,769 
60,000  –56,037  3,140,145,369 
250,000  133,963 

110,205  –5832  34,012,224 
70,000  –46,037  2,119,405,369 
111,710  –4327  18,722,929 
102,646  –13,391  179,318,881 
Practice Set
Sample explanations for some of the practice exercises below are available by viewing the following videos. Note that there is not always a match between the number of the practice exercise in the videos and the number of the practice exercise listed in the following exercise set. However, the practice exercise is the same in both.
CK12 Basic Algebra: Average or Central Tendency: Arithmetic Mean, Median, and Mode (9:01)
CK12 Basic Algebra: Range, Variance, and Standard Deviation as Measures of Dispersion (12:34)
 Define measures of central tendency. What are the three listed in this lesson?
 Define median. Explain its difference from the mean. In which situations is the median more effective to describe the center of the data?
 What is bimodal? Give an example of a set of data that is bimodal.
 What are the three measures of dispersion described in this lesson? Which is the easiest to compute?
 Give the formula for variance and define its variables.
 Why may variance be difficult to use as a measure of spread? Use the housing example to help you explain.
 Describe standard variation.
 Explain why the standard deviation of 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, is zero.
 Find the mean, median, and range of the salaries given below.
Professional Realm  Annual income 

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry  $19,630 
Sales and Related  $28,920 
Architecture and Engineering  $56,330 
Healthcare Practitioners  $49,930 
Legal  $69,030 
Teaching & Education  $39,130 
Construction  $35,460 
Professional Baseball Player*  $2,476,590 
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, except (*)  The Baseball Players' Association (playbpa.com)).
Find the mean, median, mode,and range of the following data sets.
 11, 16, 9, 15, 5, 18
 53, 32, 49, 24, 62
 11, 9, 19, 9, 19, 9, 13, 11
 3, 2, 6, 9, 0, 1, 6, 6, 3, 2, 3, 5
 2, 17, 1, –3, 12, 8, 12, 16
 11, 21, 6, 17, 9.
 223, 121, 227, 433, 122, 193, 397, 276, 303, 199, 197, 265, 366, 401, 222
Find the mean, median, and standard deviation of the following numbers. Which, of the mean and median, will give the best average?
 15, 19, 15, 16, 11, 11, 18, 21, 165, 9, 11, 20, 16, 8, 17, 10, 12, 11, 16, 14
 11, 12, 14, 14, 14, 14, 19
 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 17, 18
 6, 7, 9, 10, 13
 121, 122, 193, 197, 199, 222, 223, 227, 265, 276, 303, 366, 397, 401, 433
 If each score on an algebra test is increased by seven points, how would this affect the:
 Mean?
 Median?
 Mode?
 Range?
 Standard deviation?
 If each score of a golfer was multiplied by two, how would this affect the:
 Mean?
 Median?
 Mode?
 Range?
 Henry has the following World History scores: 88, 76, 97, 84. What would Henry need to score on his fifth test to have an average of 86?
 Explain why it is not possible for Henry to have an average of 93 after his fifth score.
 The mean of nine numbers is 105. What is the sum of the numbers?
 A bowler has the following scores: 163, 187, 194, 188, 205, 196. Find the bowler’s average.
 Golf scores for a ninehole course for five different players were: 38, 45, 58, 38, 36.
 Find the mean golf score.
 Find the standard deviation to the nearest hundredth.
 Does the mean represent the most accurate center of tendency? Explain.
 Ten house sales in Encinitas, California are shown in the table below. Find the mean, median, and standard deviation for the sale prices. Explain, using the data, why the median house price is most often used as a measure of the house prices in an area.
Address  Sale Price  Date Of Sale 

643 3RD ST  $1,137,000  6/5/2007 
911 CORNISH DR  $879,000  6/5/2007 
911 ARDEN DR  $950,000  6/13/2007 
715 S VULCAN AVE  $875,000  4/30/2007 
510 4TH ST  $1,499,000  4/26/2007 
415 ARDEN DR  $875,000  5/11/2007 
226 5TH ST  $4,000,000  5/3/2007 
710 3RD ST  $975,000  3/13/2007 
68 LA VETA AVE  $796,793  2/8/2007 
207 WEST D ST  $2,100,000  3/15/2007 
 Determine which statistical measure (mean, median, or mode) would be most appropriate for the following.
 The life expectancy of storebought goldfish.
 The age in years of the audience for a kids' TV program.
 The weight of potato sacks that a store labels as “5pound bag.”
 James and John both own fields in which they plant cabbages. James plants cabbages by hand, while John uses a machine to carefully control the distance between the cabbages. The diameters of each grower’s cabbages are measured, and the results are shown in the table. John claims his method of machine planting is better. James insists it is better to plant by hand. Use the data to provide a reason to justify both sides of the argument.
James  John  

Mean Diameter (inches)  7.10  6.85 
Standard Deviation (inches)  2.75  0.60 
 Two bus companies run services between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The mean journey times and standard deviation in those times are given below. If Samantha needs to travel between the cities, which company should she choose if:
 She needs to catch a plane in San Francisco.
 She travels weekly to visit friends who live in San Francisco and wishes to minimize the time she spends on a bus over the entire year.
InterCal Express  Fastdog Travel  

Mean Time (hours)  9.5  8.75 
Standard Deviation (hours)  0.25  2.5 
Mixed Review
 A square garden has dimensions of 20 yards by 20 yards. How much shorter is it to cut across the diagonal than to walk around two joining sides?
 Rewrite in standard form:
y=16x−5 .  Solve for
x :−2=x+7−−−−√4 .  A sail has a vertical length of 15 feet and a horizontal length of 8 feet. To the nearest foot, how long is the diagonal?
 Rationalize the denominator:
22√ .
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Feb 22, 2012Last Modified:
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