What Is Data Variability?

Written by Caitlin Davidson

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Data Variability Defined

Data variability also known as spread or dispersion, refers to how spread out a set of data is. Variability gives users a way to describe how much data sets vary and allows users to use statistics to compare their data to other sets of data.

The four main ways to describe variability in a data set are:

  • Range – The range is the amount between the smallest and largest item in the set.
  • Interquartile range – The interquartile range s a number that indicates how spread out scores are and tells users what the range is in the middle of a set of scores.
  • Variance – The variance of a data set gives users a rough idea of how spread out the data is
  • Standard deviation – The standard deviation tells a user how tightly their data is clustered around the mean

In the context of big data, variability refers to the number of inconsistencies in the data.  Variability can also refer to the inconsistent speed at which big data is loaded into your database. Lastly, big data itself, can be classified as a variable, because of the multitude of data dimensions which result from the multiple disparate data types and sources available.

In Data Defined, we help make the complex world of data more accessible by explaining some of the most complex aspects of the field.

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