Correlation (Encyclopedia of Science)
As used in mathematics, correlation is a measure of how closely two variables change in relationship to each other. For example, consider the variables height and age for boys and girls. In general, one could predict that the older a child is, the taller he or she will be. A baby might be 12 inches long; an 8-year-old, 36 inches; and a 15-year old, 60 inches. This relationship is called a positive correlation because both variables change in the same direction: as age increases, so does height.
A negative correlation is one in which variables change in the opposite direction. An example of a negative correlation might be grades in school and absence from class. The more often a person is absent from class, the poorer his or her grades are likely to be.
The two variables compared to each other in a correlation are called the independent variable and the dependent variable. As the names suggest, an independent variable is one whose change tends to be beyond human control. Time is often used as an independent variable because it goes on whether we like it or not. In the simplest sense, time always increases, it never decreases.
A dependent variable is one that changes as the result of changes in the independent variable. In a study of plant growth, plant height might be a dependent variable. The amount by which a plant grows depends on the amount of time...
(The entire section is 681 words.)
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