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Working with charts, graphs and tables
Working with charts, graphs and tables

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4.8 Mean, median and mode

Most of us are familiar with the word ‘average’. We regularly encounter statements like ‘the average temperature in May was 4 °C below normal’ or ‘underground water reserves are currently above average’. The term average is used to convey the idea of an amount, which is standard; typical of the values involved. When we are faced with a set of values, the average should help us to get a quick understanding of the general size of the values in the set. The mean, median and mode are all types of average, which are typical of the data they represent. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages, and can be used in different situations. Here we provide brief definitions and some idea of how each can be used.