Summary statistics

Last updated
Box plot of the Michelson-Morley experiment, showing several summary statistics. Michelsonmorley-boxplot.svg
Box plot of the Michelson–Morley experiment, showing several summary statistics.

In descriptive statistics, summary statistics are used to summarize a set of observations, in order to communicate the largest amount of information as simply as possible. Statisticians commonly try to describe the observations in


A common collection of order statistics used as summary statistics are the five-number summary, sometimes extended to a seven-number summary, and the associated box plot.

Entries in an analysis of variance table can also be regarded as summary statistics. [1]



Common measures of location, or central tendency, are the arithmetic mean, median, mode, and interquartile mean. [2] [3]


Common measures of statistical dispersion are the standard deviation, variance, range, interquartile range, absolute deviation, mean absolute difference and the distance standard deviation. Measures that assess spread in comparison to the typical size of data values include the coefficient of variation.

The Gini coefficient was originally developed to measure income inequality and is equivalent to one of the L-moments.

A simple summary of a dataset is sometimes given by quoting particular order statistics as approximations to selected percentiles of a distribution.


Common measures of the shape of a distribution are skewness or kurtosis, while alternatives can be based on L-moments. A different measure is the distance skewness, for which a value of zero implies central symmetry.


The common measure of dependence between paired random variables is the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, while a common alternative summary statistic is Spearman's rank correlation coefficient. A value of zero for the distance correlation implies independence.

Human perception of summary statistics

Humans efficiently use summary statistics to quickly perceive the gist of auditory and visual information. [4] [5] [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

In statistics, a central tendency is a central or typical value for a probability distribution. It may also be called a center or location of the distribution. Colloquially, measures of central tendency are often called averages. The term central tendency dates from the late 1920s.

A descriptive statistic is a summary statistic that quantitatively describes or summarizes features of a collection of information, while descriptive statistics is the process of using and analysing those statistics. Descriptive statistics is distinguished from inferential statistics by its aim to summarize a sample, rather than use the data to learn about the population that the sample of data is thought to represent. This generally means that descriptive statistics, unlike inferential statistics, is not developed on the basis of probability theory, and are frequently non-parametric statistics. Even when a data analysis draws its main conclusions using inferential statistics, descriptive statistics are generally also presented. For example, in papers reporting on human subjects, typically a table is included giving the overall sample size, sample sizes in important subgroups, and demographic or clinical characteristics such as the average age, the proportion of subjects of each sex, the proportion of subjects with related co-morbidities, etc.

In probability theory and statistics, kurtosis is a measure of the "tailedness" of the probability distribution of a real-valued random variable. Like skewness, kurtosis describes the shape of a probability distribution and, like skewness, there are different ways of quantifying it for a theoretical distribution and corresponding ways of estimating it from a sample from a population. Different measures of kurtosis may have different interpretations.

Median middle quantile of a data set or probability distribution

In statistics and probability theory, the median is the value separating the higher half from the lower half of a data sample, a population or a probability distribution. For a data set, it may be thought of as the "middle" value. For example, in the data set [1, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9], the median is 6, the fourth largest, and also the fourth smallest, number in the sample. For a continuous probability distribution, the median is the value such that a number is equally likely to fall above or below it.

Skewness measure of the asymmetry of random variables

In probability theory and statistics, skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of the probability distribution of a real-valued random variable about its mean. The skewness value can be positive or negative, or undefined.

Correlation and dependence Statistical concept

In statistics, correlation or dependence is any statistical relationship, whether causal or not, between two random variables or bivariate data. In the broadest sense correlation is any statistical association, though it commonly refers to the degree to which a pair of variables are linearly related. Familiar examples of dependent phenomena include the correlation between the physical statures of parents and their offspring, and the correlation between the price of a good and the quantity the consumers are willing to purchase, as it is depicted in the so-called demand curve.

Important note: in some papers, MAE Mean absolute error is often abbreviated as MAD .

In mathematics, a moment is a specific quantitative measure of the shape of a function. It is used in both mechanics and statistics. If the function represents physical density, then the zeroth moment is the total mass, the first moment divided by the total mass is the center of mass, and the second moment is the rotational inertia. If the function is a probability distribution, then the zeroth moment is the total probability, the first moment is the expected value, the second central moment is the variance, the third standardized moment is the skewness, and the fourth standardized moment is the kurtosis. The mathematical concept is closely related to the concept of moment in physics.

In probability theory and statistics, the coefficient of variation (CV), also known as relative standard deviation (RSD), is a standardized measure of dispersion of a probability distribution or frequency distribution. It is often expressed as a percentage, and is defined as the ratio of the standard deviation to the mean . The CV or RSD is widely used in analytical chemistry to express the precision and repeatability of an assay. It is also commonly used in fields such as engineering or physics when doing quality assurance studies and ANOVA gauge R&R. In addition, CV is utilized by economists and investors in economic models.

Most of the terms listed in Wikipedia glossaries are already defined and explained within Wikipedia itself. However, glossaries like this one are useful for looking up, comparing and reviewing large numbers of terms together. You can help enhance this page by adding new terms or writing definitions for existing ones.

The mean absolute difference (univariate) is a measure of statistical dispersion equal to the average absolute difference of two independent values drawn from a probability distribution. A related statistic is the relative mean absolute difference, which is the mean absolute difference divided by the arithmetic mean, and equal to twice the Gini coefficient. The mean absolute difference is also known as the absolute mean difference and the Gini mean difference (GMD). The mean absolute difference is sometimes denoted by Δ or as MD.

In statistics, normality tests are used to determine if a data set is well-modeled by a normal distribution and to compute how likely it is for a random variable underlying the data set to be normally distributed.

In probability theory and statistics, the index of dispersion, dispersion index,coefficient of dispersion,relative variance, or variance-to-mean ratio (VMR), like the coefficient of variation, is a normalized measure of the dispersion of a probability distribution: it is a measure used to quantify whether a set of observed occurrences are clustered or dispersed compared to a standard statistical model.


In statistics, an L-estimator is an estimator which is an L-statistic – a linear combination of order statistics of the measurements. This can be as little as a single point, as in the median, or as many as all points, as in the mean.

In statistics, a trimmed estimator is an estimator derived from another estimator by excluding some of the extreme values, a process called truncation. This is generally done to obtain a more robust statistic, and the extreme values are considered outliers. Trimmed estimators also often have higher efficiency for mixture distributions and heavy-tailed distributions than the corresponding untrimmed estimator, at the cost of lower efficiency for other distributions, such as the normal distribution.

Statistical dispersion general term for the value describing how spread out the data are

In statistics, dispersion is the extent to which a distribution is stretched or squeezed. Common examples of measures of statistical dispersion are the variance, standard deviation, and interquartile range.

Univariate analysis is perhaps the simplest form of statistical analysis. Like other forms of statistics, it can be inferential or descriptive. The key fact is that only one variable is involved.

In statistics and probability theory, the nonparametric skew is a statistic occasionally used with random variables that take real values. It is a measure of the skewness of a random variable's distribution—that is, the distribution's tendency to "lean" to one side or the other of the mean. Its calculation does not require any knowledge of the form of the underlying distribution—hence the name nonparametric. It has some desirable properties: it is zero for any symmetric distribution; it is unaffected by a scale shift; and it reveals either left- or right-skewness equally well. In some statistical samples it has been shown to be less powerful than the usual measures of skewness in detecting departures of the population from normality.


  1. Upton, G., Cook, I. (2006). Oxford Dictionary of Statistics, OUP. ISBN   978-0-19-954145-4
  2. Bullen, P. (2003). Handbook of Means and Their Inequalities. Springer.
  3. Grabisch, M.; Marichal, J.L.; Mesiar, R.; Pap, E. (2009). Aggregation Functions. Oxford University Press.
  4. Piazza, Elise A.; Sweeny, Timothy D.; Wessel, David; Silver, Michael A.; Whitney, David (2013). "Humans Use Summary Statistics to Perceive Auditory Sequences". Psychological Science. 24 (8): 1389–1397. doi:10.1177/0956797612473759. PMC   4381997 . PMID   23761928.
  5. Alexander, R. G.; Schmidt, J.; Zelinsky, G. Z. (2014). "Are summary statistics enough? Evidence for the importance of shape in guiding visual search". Visual Cognition. 22 (3–4): 595–609. doi:10.1080/13506285.2014.890989. PMC   4500174 . PMID   26180505.
  6. Utochkin, Igor S. (2015). "Ensemble summary statistics as a basis for rapid visual categorization". Journal of Vision. 15 (4): 8. doi:10.1167/15.4.8. PMID   26317396.