Making the Mean More Meaningful

Last week, we started a series on averages, looking at a common list of three kinds of average: the mean, median, and mode. This time, we’ll focus in on the (arithmetic) mean, thinking about why it is appropriate for many applications; that will lead into next week’s discussion of when other kinds of mean are …

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Three Kinds of “Average”

There are three different statistics that are commonly taught as “averages”, or “measures of central tendency”, of a set of numbers: mean, median, and mode. (There are others as well, which we will get to later.) What are they? How do they differ? How do you use them? We’ll look into questions like these as …

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Normal Approximation … or Not?

(A new question of the week) A recent question (from May) about approximating the binomial distribution with the normal distribution led to some (accidental and otherwise) insights about the method.

Bayes and Virus Testing

News about testing for viruses has reminded me of a couple problems that I linked to some time ago, but never dealt with directly. The question is, given data such as the result of a (fallible) blood or swab test, how sure can we be of the results? The answer is sometimes surprising.

Cumulative Distribution Functions (Ogive)

(An archive question of the week) We’ve been looking at some issues involving frequency distributions and the classes used in them. Let’s look at a related concept with some similar issues, namely the cumulative distribution function (CDF), also called an ogive (more on that name at the end of the post!).

Grouped Data: Open-ended Classes?

(A new question of the week) A recent question raised a different issue about grouped frequency distributions than we have discussed previously: What do you do when the last class is labelled something like “30 or more”? As we’ll see, there is no one right answer!

More Than 100 Percent?

One of the questions we looked at in our recent survey of percent change problems involved percentages over 100%, which often confuse students. How can anything be more than 100%? Let’s look at a couple questions about that issue.

Percent Change: Markup and Margin

We have looked at how to calculate, apply, and undo a percent increase or decrease. Here we will look at some special terms used in business for percent increases, which have been a source of many questions over the years.