Generally, the mean of a set of values is a value that represents the average or middle of the values. There are many ways of calculating such a value, the most common being the arithmetic mean and the geometric mean.

In a dataset or frequency distribution, the arithmetic mean is one measure of central tendency, that is, it is one way of defining the center of the data, the value about which the data is approximately evenly distributed. It is a useful measure of central tendency if the data has a uniform or symmetric distribution. However, it can be misleading if the data is strongly skewed. The classic example: If Bill Gates walks into a homeless shelter then everyone in the building is rich—on average.

Citation Info

  • [MLA] “mean.” Platonic Realms Interactive Mathematics Encyclopedia. Platonic Realms, 2 Oct 2014. Web. 22 Feb 2018. <>
  • [APA] mean (2 Oct 2014). Retrieved 22 Feb 2018 from the Platonic Realms Interactive Mathematics Encyclopedia:


Get the ultimate math study-guide Math & Me: Embracing Successproduct thumbnail image Available in the Math Store
detail from Escher pic Belvedere

Are you a mathematical artist?

Platonic Realms is preparing an online gallery space to showcase and market the works of painters, sculptors, and other artists working in a tangible medium.

If your work celebrates mathematical themes we want to hear from you!

Please let us know about yourself using the contact page.