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3.1: Introduction

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    Learning Objectives

    By the end of this chapter, the student should be able to:

    • Recognize, describe, and calculate the measures of location of data: quartiles and percentiles.
    • Recognize, describe, and calculate the measures of the center of data: mean, median, and mode.
    • Recognize, describe, and calculate the measures of the spread of data: variance, standard deviation, and range.

    Once you have collected data, what will you do with it? Data can be described and presented in many different formats. For example, suppose you are interested in buying a house in a particular area. You may have no clue about the house prices, so you might ask your real estate agent to give you a sample data set of prices. Looking at all the prices in the sample often is overwhelming. A better way might be to look at the median price and the variation of prices. The median and variation are just two ways that you will learn to describe data. Your agent might also provide you with a graph of the data.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): When you have large amounts of data, you will need to organize it in a way that makes sense. These ballots from an election are rolled together with similar ballots to keep them organized. (credit: William Greeson)

    In this chapter, you will study numerical and graphical ways to describe and display your data. This area of statistics is called "Descriptive Statistics." You will learn how to calculate, and even more importantly, how to interpret these measurements and graphs.

    In this chapter, we will focus on numerical descriptions of data and what they mean. This will include demonstrating these ideas using visual means, with box plots and histograms.

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean (De Anza College) with many other contributing authors. Content produced by OpenStax College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. Download for free at

    3.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.