Range (statistics)

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In descriptive statistics, the range is the length of the smallest interval which contains all the data. It is calculated by subtracting the smallest observation (sample minimum) from the greatest (sample maximum) and provides an indication of statistical dispersion.

It is measured in the same units as the data. Since it only depends on two of the observations, it is a poor and weak measure of dispersion except when the sample size is large. (example:a,b,c= range=c-a)

For a population, the range is greater than or equal to twice the standard deviation, with equality only for the coin toss (Bernoulli distribution with p = ½).

The range, in the sense of the difference between the highest and lowest scores, is also called the crude range. When a new scale for measurement is developed, then a potential maximum or minimum will emanate from this scale. This is called the potential (crude) range. Of course this range should not be chosen too small, in order to avoid a ceiling effect. When the measurement is obtained, the resulting smallest or greatest observation, will provide the observed (crude) range.

The midrange point, i.e. the point halfway between the two extremes, is an indicator of the central tendency of the data. Again it is not particularly robust for small samples.

See also

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