Statistics

Three Times Larger: Idiom or Error?

Having just written about issues of wording with regard to percentages, we should look at another wording issue that touches on percentages and several other matters of wording. What does “three times larger” mean? How about “300% more”? We’ll focus on one discussion that involved several of us, and referred back to other answers we’ve …

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Talking About Percentages

A recent discussion with a student I was tutoring face to face, about an ambiguously worded problem, led me to gather a few answers we’ve given related to the words we use associated with percentages. Ambiguous percentages Here is a question from 2003: Clarifying Percentages vs. Percentage Points What is the difference between measuring using …

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Three Meanings of “Percentile”

(An archive problem of the week) Having just discussed quartiles, I want to look at related issues concerning percentiles. There, I briefly mentioned different perspectives on the concept of quartile, and focused on differences in the details of the calculations; here I will focus mostly on the different perspectives, and then touch on variations in …

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The Many Meanings of “Quartile”

Some time ago I discussed various issues pertaining to the concept of median in statistics. The same issues, and more, affect the concept of quartile (the median being the second quartile), so much so that different statistical software packages produce many different answers for quartiles. I have seen this affect students, who are taught one …

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From Histograms to Probability Distribution Functions

(Archive Question of the Week) We occasionally got questions about Probability Distribution Functions (PDFs) from students who lacked a full picture of what they are; when I searched for references to give them, I never found one that explained the whole concept as I wanted to. When the following question came in, I took it …

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Mean, Median, Mode: Which is Best?

It seems common for teachers to ask students which “measure of central tendency” (average) is best. Sometimes they ask this in a particular context (say, to report the “average” salary at a company); other times there is no context (other than perhaps some unidentified data). In the latter case, we generally consider the question to …

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What is the Median, Really?

From time to time we get questions about finding the median in statistics. Some are entirely routine; but the three I want to discuss today take us gradually deeper into a morass of ambiguity. A recurring theme of my experience in Ask Dr. Math has been that definitions are not always what they seem – …

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