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measures of central tendency

A measure of central tendency is a value that indicates the central or average value of a set of data. The most commonly used measures of central tendency are the arithmetic mean, the mode, and the median, and which of these gives the best measure depends on the data.

For numerical data that is symmetric in its distribution, i.e., not skewed and not having large outliers, the arithmetic-mean gives a good measure. However, for datasets that are skewed or have large outliers, the mean can be a misleading measure, and in such cases the median is a better measure.

The mode, which is simply the frequency of the most frequently occurring value, is typically used for non-numerical data since the mean and median cannot be used.

Less common measures of central tendency include the midrange, the harmonic mean, and the geometric mean.

Citation Info

  • [MLA] “measures of central tendency.” Platonic Realms Interactive Mathematics Encyclopedia. Platonic Realms, 19 Feb 2014. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <http://platonicrealms.com/>
  • [APA] measures of central tendency (19 Feb 2014). Retrieved 19 Feb 2014 from the Platonic Realms Interactive Mathematics Encyclopedia: http://platonicrealms.com/encyclopedia/measures-of-central-tendency/

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