Stems, Leaves, and Data

It’s been a while since we’ve written about statistics, so I want to start a short series about that. Here, we’ll look into stem-and-leaf plots (also called stemplots).

The Book Stacking Problem

(An archive question of the week) A recent question asked about a well-known problem about stacking books (or cards, or dominoes) so that the top one extends beyond the base, giving a link to one of many explanations of it – but one, like many, that doesn’t quite fill in all the details. Doctor Rick …

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One Mode, No Modes, Many Modes

I’ll close this series on averages with a quick look at the mode. Unlike the other “averages”, this doesn’t always exist, and when it is, it is not always unique. In fact, as we’ll see, sometimes we can’t be sure whether there is no mode, or many modes. How do we handle these odd cases?

Four Kinds of “Mean”

Last week, we looked at exactly what the mean is, referring specifically to the arithmetic mean, the one we first learn as the “average”. But just as we previously saw that there are several things called “average” (mean, median, mode), there are in fact several different kinds of “mean”. We’ll look here at the arithmetic, …

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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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