Best Measure of Center

What is the best measure of center? It is the mean, the mode, the median, or the midrange? There is no single best answer to this question.

First, take a close at the the table below which shows a comparison of mean, median, mode, and midrange. 

What does the best measure of center depend on?

As a rule of thumb, the best measure of center may depend on the kind of data set you have.

  • When do I use the mean? If it is important to include all the values and there are no extremes values, then use the mean. Generally speaking, this is your first choice.
  •  When do I use the median? If there are some extreme values and not many values that repeat themselves, then use the median.
  • When do I use the mode? If there are many values that repeat themselves, then use the mode.
  • When do I use the midrange? If there are absolutely no extreme values, no repeated values, and you want to get an a quick answer for the measure of center, use the midrange. This is your last resort!
Best measure of center

As you can see in the table above, these measures of center have some similarities and differences.

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