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What Is The Difference Between A Median, A Mean, And A Mode?
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To find the median of a series of numbers, put the numbers in order (either smallest to largest or largest to smallest). Count your way, from either side, to the middle number. For example, if you have the numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, the median value is 4. If the sequence has an even number of numbers, there will be two numbers in the middle. Then the median is found by adding the two middle values and dividing by 2. In this example, the sequence is 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. Here the median is found by taking the average of the two middle values. For example, 4+5=9÷2=4.5.
The mean, also known as the average, is found by adding all the numbers in a sequence and dividing the total by the number of items in the sequence. If we take the first example, 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, the mean is 22 5, which equals 4.4.
If the sequence of numbers includes some values that are much higher or lower than most of the others, the mean loses significance. For example, the mean of the salaries of a professional football team would be skewed if one of the players was a high-earning superstar. That one salary could boost the mean so high that it would cease to be reflective of the majority of the team members' salaries.
Another measure, called the mode, is the number in a sequence that appears most often. In the string 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, the mode would be two.
Sources: Brennan, Richard P. Dictionary of Scientific Literacy, pp. 199-200; Bush, Grace A. Foundations of Mathematics, pp. 157-61; Hopkins, Nigel J., John W. Mayne, and John R. Hudson. The Numbers You Need, pp. 275-77.
Posted by fact-finder on October 10, 2011 at 4:00 PM (Answer #1)
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