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Remember the Mean -- and the Median, and the Mode, and the Range, and the Outlier

Date: 04/12/2010 at 21:17:31
From: Riley
Subject: How can you remember mean,median,mode,range.and outlier

I need help with mean, median, mode, range, and outlier. I just can't
remember which one's which -- especially the first four (I kinda already
know "outlier").

All of them are rather hard. I don't have the first idea of how to do
them, so I can't show any work. And since most of them begin with the
letter "m," it gets confusing.

My math teacher hasn't give us any memory strategies (or if she has, they
weren't memorable).

Also, I have a b-i-i-i-g-g-g AIMS test tomorrow about data analysis. I
want to do well, especially since math is my worst subject. I'm sure you
get that a lot.

So if you could respond today, that would be awesome. But
p-p-l-l-e-e-a-a-s-s-e, by tomorrow.

Thank you, Dr. Math!

Date: 04/12/2010 at 23:23:47
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: How can you remember mean,median,mode,range.and outlier

Hi, Riley.

The main way to learn which word has which meaning is just to use them a
lot. Do you have some trick to remember which of your friends has which
name? Probably not (unless they are twins and you don't know them well as
individuals). Once you've spent enough time with someone, you know who
they are! The same is true with vocabulary like this.

Having said that, let's see if we can make the meanings more memorable, so
you can get to know them as individuals, keeping their meaning in mind as
you use them.

An outlier is a number that doesn't fit in with others in its group --
sort of a loner. It "lies outside" of the main group.

The range of a set of numbers is how far they are spread out -- just as
the range of a cell phone is how far you can go and still talk, or the
range of an animal is how far it travels.

The mean of a set of numbers is just another word for the average -- add
them up and divide by how many.

The median is the "middle" -- the number in the middle when they are lined
up in order. If there are two middle numbers, calculate the median by
taking their average (mean).

The mode is the "most common." You may hear the word "mode" as in "a la
mode" (originally meaning "fashionable") or "modish" (also meaning
"stylish"). These mean that something is, in a sense, popular. The mode is
the most "popular" value.

One last tip: of the three terms that start with the letter "m," "median"
is the one that sounds most like "middle."

Does that help at all?

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum 
Associated Topics:
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Statistics

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