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a) The mean

Some of the important characteristics of the mean are:

1. It is the most familiar and most widely used measure. Long explanations of its meaning

are thus not usually required.

2. It is a computed measure whose value is affected by the value of every observation. A

change in the value of any observation will change the mean value; however, the mean

value may not be the same as any of the observation values.

3. Its value may be distorted too much by a relatively few extreme values. Because it is

affected by all the values of the variable, the mean can lose its representative quality in

badly skewed distributions.

4. It cannot be computed from an open-ended distribution in the absence of additional

information.

5. It is the most reliable average to use when sample data are being used to make inferences

about populations. The mean of a sample of observations taken from a population may be

used to estimate the value of the population mean.

6. It possesses two mathematical properties that will prove to be important in subsequent

chapters. The first of these properties is that the sum of the differences between data

items and the mean of those items will be zero i.e., (X - ) = 0. And the second

property is that if these differences between data items and the mean are squared, then

the sum of the squared deviations will be a minimum value i.e.,

=

minimum value.

b) The median

Some of the important characteristics of the median are:

1. It is easy to define and easy to understand. The computation and interpretation of the

median, as we have seen, is not difficult.

2. It is affected by the number of observations, but not by the value of these observations.

Thus, extremely high or low values will not distort the median.

3. It is frequently used in badly skewed distributions. The median will not be affected by the

size of the values of extreme items, and so it is a better choice than the mean when a

distribution is badly skewed.

4. It may be computed in an open-ended distribution. Since the median value is located in

the median class interval, and since that interval is virtually certain of not being openended, the median may be determined.

5. It is generally less reliable than the mean for statistical inference purposes. In the

statistical inference, we will use the mean exclusively as the measure of central tendency.

c) The mode

Some of the characteristics of the mode are:

1. It is generally a less popular measure than the mean or median.

2. It may not exist in some seats of data, or there may be more than one mode on other sets

of grouped data. A distribution with two peaks (i.e., a bimodal distribution) should

probably be reclassified into more than one distribution.

3. It can be located in an open-ended distribution.

4. It is not affected by extreme values in a distribution.

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