Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Stuck in the Middle with AVERAGE, MEDIAN, and MODE
median and the mode equal 0. The median equals 0 because that’s the middle
value in the sorted list. The mode equals 0 because that’s the highest
occurring value. As you can see, statistics prove that the new toothpaste gives 0
cavities, on average — sort of.
Look at another example. Figure 9-1 shows the results of a midterm test for a
hypothetical class. The mean, median, and mode are shown for the
distribution of grades.
Figure 9-1:
in a list of
As almost always happens, the mean, the median, and the mode each return
a different number. Strictly speaking, we should say that the average grade
is 86.72, the mean value. But if the teacher or the school wants to make their
impact on students look better, they could point out that the most frequently
occurring score is 94. This is the mode and, sure enough, three students
did receive a 94. But is this the best representation of the overall results?
Probably not.
Working with the functions that return these measures of central tendencies —
AVERAGE, MEDIAN, and MODE — can make for interesting and sometimes
misleading results. Here is one more example of how these three functions
can give widely different results for the same data. Here are data for six
customers and what they spent with a company last year:
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