# Archive for September 14th, 2006

## Mean, standard deviation, and stem-and-leaf plot

14th September 2006

I am doing some simple statistics now, and had to review some basic concepts like standard deviation.
As a note to myself and anyone interested, here it stays.

The mean is just a sum of all your numerical observations, divided by the number of observations. E.g., if you have measured how tall your 5 children are, and got the values 1.42, 1.56, 1.05, 1.89, 1.92, the “mean height” of your children will be x = (1.42 + 1.56 + 1.05 + 1.89 + 1.92) / 5, x = 7.84 / 5 = 1.568 (all values in metres).

The mean itself doesn’t tell you much, however. If you had this 1.568 mean available, you wouldn’t know even the range of heights.

The standard deviation helps with this. First of all, it is measured in the same units as initial data – i.e. metres in our example. Second, it gives you an idea of how strongly do the measured values differ in your sample – the bigger the deviation, the longer is the value range measured in the sample.
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