Statistics How To

Arithmetic Mean: What it is and How to Find it

Statistics Definitions

What is the Arithmetic Mean?

The arithmetic mean is another name for the mean or the average. When someone talks about the mean of a data set, they are usually talking about the arithmetic mean (most people just drop the word “arithmetic”). It’s called a different name to set it apart from other means found in math, including the geometric mean.

The mean is influenced by outliers , so it isn’t always a good indicator of where the middle of a data set is. For data sets that have either a lot of low values or a lot of high values, the median is often a better way to describe the “middle.”

How to find the Arithmetic Mean

arithmetic mean

Arithmetic Mean Step 1: Add the numbers

Finding the arithmetic mean takes two steps: add all the numbers up and then divide by the number of items in your set. The arithmetic mean is found in the exact same way as a sample mean (“sample” here just means a number of items in your data set). Watch the video, or read the steps below:

Sample problem: Find the arithmetic mean for average driving speed for one car over a 6 hour journey: 54 mph, 57 mph, 58 mph, 66 mph, 69 mph, 71 mph

Step 1: Add all the numbers up: 54 + 57 + 58 + 66 + 69 + 71 = 375.

Step 2: Divide by the number of items in the set. For this set there are 6 numbers, so:
375 / 6 = 62.5.

Answer: The average driving speed is 62.5 mph.

For another example with steps, see the next article:
How to find the mean

Population vs. Sample Mean

If your data is a population, then the mean is called a population mean, represented by the letter μ. If the list is a sample, it’s called a sample mean x̄.

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