# What is the maximum amount of modes you can have?

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#1
I have a brief memory of the idea that if there's 3+ modes, then there are no modes. But when I look this up, I find nothing. Perhaps I made this up?
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1 month ago
#2
If you're talking about a probability distribution, you have bimodal, trimodal and multimodal. Never heard of an upper limit.
Last edited by mqb2766; 1 month ago
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1 month ago
#3
(Original post by franksfoot1)
I have a brief memory of the idea that if there's 3+ modes, then there are no modes. But when I look this up, I find nothing. Perhaps I made this up?
Mathematically, I see no reason for 3 (or any other number) being the max. But in practical discussion, people are generally using the mode(s) to give a general description of the behaviour of the distribution. So "mode = 25" means the distribution has a peak at 25, bimodal with modes 25, 75 means there are two distinct peaks at 25 and 75, etc. If you're seeing more peaks than that, it's very likely talking about the peaks is either non-meaningful or actively misleading.

Even in cases where a high number of modes is "meaningful", it's likely that you'd be better off looking at the data in another way. e.g. if you measured "time Fred enters the factory" measured in minutes since the start of the week, it's likely that you'd see 5 peaks roughly 24 hours apart, and that does reflect real information about when Fred goes to the factory. But it's probably not the most informative way of looking at things.
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