You are Here: Home >< Maths

# What is standard deviation? Watch

Announcements
1. I've tried to understand loads but don't quite get it. Is it the average distance a point is from the mean? (If its not the mean)
2. It's the mean distance the points are from the theoretical mean. More simply put, it's just a measure of how spread out data is.

Posted from TSR Mobile
3. (Original post by MathsMeister)
I've tried to understand loads but don't quite get it. Is it the average distance a point is from the mean? (If its not the mean)
Didn't you cover this at GCSE (I'm asking cos I think you're starting A level now, not because I'm being funny!)?

It's one of a number of so-called "measures of dispersion" i.e. things which tell you how spread out your data are. Other examples are things like range and inter-quartile range.
4. I thouught that if its how spread out the data points are then it's be the mean of how far out the values which are spread are spread out. But then the ones with negative deviations should be made positive so not to make zero. But then he squares the numbers to do that instead, which makes no sense let alone square rooting it.
5. (Original post by MathsMeister)
I thouught that if its how spread out the data points are then it's be the mean of how far out the values which are spread are spread out.
That is exactly what's happening, we're just choosing to measure from a central point (the mean)

But then the ones with negative deviations should be made positive so not to make zero. But then he squares the numbers to do that instead, which makes no sense let alone square rooting it.
Perhaps you can elaborate, because I don't see the problem with that.
6. (Original post by davros)
Didn't you cover this at GCSE
SD is not in the standard GCSE
7. (Original post by TenOfThem)
SD is not in the standard GCSE
this website includes it in GCSE:

http://www.mathsrevision.net/gcse-ma...dard-deviation

8. Standard deviation is the square root of Variance.
9. It's not a topic for GCSE Maths but it is for GCSE Statistics, a similar thing.
But as others have said, standard deviation is a measure of spread

Posted from TSR Mobile
10. why can you not just make the distance from the mean positive and add the distances up and divide by how many?
11. (Original post by MathsMeister)
why can you not just make the distance from the mean positive and add the distances up and divide by how many?
That would be fine if you had 10 values for example

However - let's say that you have 10000 values - do you really think it would be a good idea to work out each difference, check if it were negative and if so multiply by -1 prior to adding all of the values

The squaring, summing, rooting avoids this

As with anything in maths this is a constructed value rather than anything that occurs "naturally"
12. (Original post by TenOfThem)
SD is not in the standard GCSE
Really????

I thought GCSE was loaded up with more stats than ever before (and we certainly did SD for O level). What on earth do they find to cover in the stats component of GCSE?
13. (Original post by MathsMeister)
why can you not just make the distance from the mean positive and add the distances up and divide by how many?
You can - it's called the Mean Absolute Deviation (you might want to look this up!).

There isn't a unique measure of spread, and many mathematicians have argued for the use of MAD instead of SD. However, the formula relies on using modulus signs rather than squares and square roots which makes things more difficult when you come to work out properties of distributions by doing things like differentiation.

SD is largely a historical choice, through looking at things like the normal distribution and analysis of regression lines and minimizing errors.
14. (Original post by TenOfThem)
That would be fine if you had 10 values for example

However - let's say that you have 10000 values - do you really think it would be a good idea to work out each difference, check if it were negative and if so multiply by -1 prior to adding all of the values

The squaring, summing, rooting avoids this

As with anything in maths this is a constructed value rather than anything that occurs "naturally"
Based on my experiments this morning, computing mean absolute deviations and standard deviations for very large data sets, I don't think computation time is a reason to reject MAD.
15. (Original post by davros)
Really????

I thought GCSE was loaded up with more stats than ever before (and we certainly did SD for O level). What on earth do they find to cover in the stats component of GCSE?
i) "What is wrong with Ahmed's survey question:

"How much TV do you watch ?"

ii) "Yim Wah has 5 red balls and 3 green balls. What is the chance she picks a yellow ball ?"

iii) Look at the cumulative frequency curve opposite. If the mark for an A* is 32% estimate the proportion of students who go an A* "
16. (Original post by the bear)
i) "What is wrong with Ahmed's survey question:

"How much TV do you watch ?"

ii) "Yim Wah has 5 red balls and 3 green balls. What is the chance she picks a yellow ball ?"

iii) Look at the cumulative frequency curve opposite. If the mark for an A* is 32% estimate the proportion of students who go an A* "
Sadly I suspect these questions will turn up one day. Statistics can be uninspiring enough without the sort of nonsense being taught today, but there seems to be no real impetus to change things.
17. (Original post by davros)
Sadly I suspect these questions will turn up one day. Statistics can be uninspiring enough without the sort of nonsense being taught today, but there seems to be no real impetus to change things.
One day? See question 3 here.
18. (Original post by davros)
Really????

I thought GCSE was loaded up with more stats than ever before (and we certainly did SD for O level). What on earth do they find to cover in the stats component of GCSE?
Really and the 2015 syllabus has even less statistics/probability
19. So there isn't another way of doing it without the outliers being overweighted unless you do the mean absolute deviation. But then you wouldn't be able to do all those other things when differentiating as mentioned earlier? To me it doesn't make sense doing SD if it is not a true average.
20. (Original post by MathsMeister)
So there isn't another way of doing it without the outliers being overweighted unless you do the mean absolute deviation. But then you wouldn't be able to do all those other things when differentiating as mentioned earlier? To me it doesn't make sense doing SD if it is not a true average.
I don't understand what you mean!

SD is just a measure of "spread" or "dispersion" (in more technical language) - there are others, as I've explained, but just not in common use.

Outliers are irrelevant - if you believe you have outliers then you exclude them from your analysis in the first place, whether you're calculating a measure of central tendency (like the mean) or a measure of dispersion (like range or SD).

TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

This forum is supported by:
Updated: July 8, 2014
Today on TSR

### Things NOT to do at uni

Have you done any of these?

### How much revision have yr12s done?

Discussions on TSR

• Latest
• ## See more of what you like on The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

• Poll
Useful resources

### Maths Forum posting guidelines

Not sure where to post? Read the updated guidelines here

### How to use LaTex

Writing equations the easy way

### Study habits of A* students

Top tips from students who have already aced their exams

## Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups
Discussions on TSR

• Latest
• ## See more of what you like on The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

• The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.