Find definitions and interpretation guidance for every descriptive statistic that is provided with Individual Distribution Identification.

The number of nonmissing values in the sample. N is the count of all the observed values.

In this example, there are 141 recorded observations.

Total | N | N* |
---|---|---|

149 | 141 |
8 |

Use N to assess your sample size.

Generally, larger samples produce more reliable results for assessing the distribution fit.
###### Important

Use caution when you interpret results from a very small or a very large sample. If you have a very small sample, a goodness-of-fit test may not have enough power to detect significant deviations from the distribution. If you have a very large sample, the test may be so powerful that it detects even small deviations from the distribution that have no practical significance. Use the probability plots in addition to the p-values to evaluate the distribution fit.

The number of missing values in the sample. N* is the count of the cells in the worksheet that contain the missing value symbol *.

In this example, 8 errors occurred during data collection and are recorded as missing values.

Total | N | N* |
---|---|---|

149 | 141 | 8 |

The mean is calculated as the average of the data, which is the sum of all the observations divided by the number of observations.

For example, the waiting time (in minutes) of five customers in a bank are: 3, 2, 4, 1, and 2. The mean waiting time is calculated as follows:
On average, a customer waits 2.4 minutes for service at the bank.

Use the mean to describe the sample with a single value that represents the center of the data. Many statistical analyses use the mean as a standard reference point.

The median and the mean both measure central tendency. But unusual values, called outliers, generally affect the median less than they affect the mean. If your data are symmetric, the mean and median are similar.

The standard deviation (StDev) is the most common measure of dispersion, or how spread out the data are about the mean. The symbol σ (sigma) is often used to represent the standard deviation of a population, and *s* is used to represent the standard deviation of a sample.

Use the standard deviation to determine how spread out the data are from the mean. A larger sample standard deviation indicates that your data are spread more widely around the mean.

You can also use the standard deviation to establish a benchmark for estimating the overall variation of a process. Variation that is random or natural to a process is often called noise.

The median is the midpoint of the data set. This midpoint value is the point at which half of the observations are above the value and half of the observations are below the value. The median is determined by ranking the observations and finding the observation at the number [N + 1] / 2 in the ranked order. If the number of observations is even, the median is the value between the observations ranked at numbers N / 2 and [N / 2] + 1.

The median and the mean both measure central tendency. But unusual values, called outliers, generally affect the median less than they affect the mean. If your data are symmetric, the mean and median are similar.

The smallest data value.

In these data, the minimum is 7.

13 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 12 | 10 | 7 |
9 | 14 |

Use the minimum to identify a possible outlier. If the value is unusually low, investigate its possible causes, such as a data-entry error or a measurement error.

One of the simplest ways to assess the spread of the data is to compare the minimum and maximum to determine its range. The range is the difference between the maximum and the minimum value in the data set. When you evaluate the spread of the data, also consider other measures, such as the standard deviation.

The largest data value.

In these data, the maximum is 19.

13 | 17 | 18 | 19 |
12 | 10 | 7 | 9 | 14 |

Use the maximum to identify a possible outlier. If the value is unusually high, investigate its possible causes, such as a data-entry error or a measurement error.

One of the simplest ways to assess the spread of the data is to compare the minimum and maximum to determine its range. The range is the difference between the maximum and the minimum in the data set. When you evaluate the spread of the data, also consider other measures, such as the standard deviation.

Skewness is the extent to which the data are not symmetrical.

Use skewness to obtain an initial understanding of the symmetry of your data.

Kurtosis indicates how the peak and tails of a distribution differ from the normal distribution.

Use kurtosis to initially understand general characteristics about the distribution of your data.