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Dispersion: The word dispersion has a technical meaning in statistics. The average measures the center of the data.

It is one aspect observations. Another feature of the observations is as to how the observations are spread about the center. The observation may be close to the center or they may be spread away from the center. If the observation are close to the center (usually the arithmetic mean or median), we say that dispersion, scatter or variation is small. If the observations are spread away from the center, we say dispersion is large. Suppose we have three groups of students who have obtained the following marks in a test. The arithmetic means of the three groups are also given below:

Group A: 46, 48, 50, 52, 54 Group B: 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 Group C: 40, 50, 60, 70, 80

XA=50 XB=50 XC=50

In a group A and B arithmetic means are equal i.e. XA=XB=50. But in group A the observations are concentrated on the center. All students of group A have almost the same level of performance. We say that there is consistence in the observations in group A. In group B the mean is 50 but the observations are not closed to the center. One observation is as small as 30 and one observation is as large as 70. Thus there is greater dispersion in group B. In group C the mean is 60 but the spread of the observations with respect to the center 60 is the same as the spread of the observations in group B with respect to their own center which is 50. Thus in group B and C the means are different but their dispersion is the same. In group A and C the means are different and their dispersions are also different. Dispersion is an important feature of the observations and it is measured with the help of the measures of dispersion, scatter or variation. The word variability is also used for this idea of dispersion. The study of dispersion is very important in statistical data. If in a certain factory there is consistence in the wages of workers, the workers will be satisfied. But if some workers have high wages and some have low wages, there will be unrest among the low paid workers and they might go on strikes and arrange demonstrations. If in a certain country some people are very poor and some are very high rich, we say there is economic disparity. It means that dispersion is large. The idea of dispersion is important in the study of wages of workers, prices of commodities, standard of living of different people, distribution of wealth, distribution of land among framers and various other fields of life. Some brief definitions of dispersion are:

1. The degree to which numerical data tend to spread about an average value is called the dispersion or variation of the data. 2. Dispersion or variation may be defined as a statistics signifying the extent of the scatteredness of items around a measure of central tendency. 3. Dispersion or variation is the measurement of the scatter of the size of the items of a series about the average.

Measures of Dispersion

For the study of dispersion, we need some measures which show whether the dispersion is small or large. There are two types of measure of dispersion which are: (a) Absolute Measure of Dispersion (b) Relative Measure of Dispersion Absolute Measures of Dispersion: These measures give us an idea about the amount of dispersion in a set of observations. They give the answers in the same units as the units of the original observations. When the observations are in kilograms, the absolute measure is also in kilograms. If we have two sets of observations, we cannot always use the absolute measures to compare their dispersion. We shall explain later as to when the absolute measures can be used for comparison of dispersion in two or more than two sets of data. The absolute measures which are commonly used are: 1. 2. 3. 4. The Range The Quartile Deviation The Mean Deviation The Standard deviation and Variance

Relative Measure of Dispersion: These measures are calculated for the comparison of dispersion in two or more than two sets of observations. These measures are free of the units in which the original data is measured. If the original data is in dollar or kilometers, we do not use these units with relative measure of dispersion. These measures are a sort of ratio and are called coefficients. Each absolute measure of dispersion can be converted into its relative measure. Thus the relative measures of dispersion are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Coefficient of Range or Coefficient of Dispersion. Coefficient of Quartile Deviation or Quartile Coefficient of Dispersion. Coefficient of Mean Deviation or Mean Deviation of Dispersion. Coefficient of Standard Deviation or Standard Coefficient of Dispersion.

5. Coefficient of Variation (a special case of Standard Coefficient of Dispersion)