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# What is the best representation of the distribution of data

Posted on 2012-03-29
Medium Priority
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Hi,

This is a very basic question but I totally forgot high school stuff :/

What is the best way to represent a set of random data? (random numbers)

Average? (Although this is basic, I am looking to do more calculation if possible to get the best fit)

Thanks!
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Question by:Shanan212
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Expert Comment

ID: 37783937
there is no single "best" way

the answer will depend on what you are trying to represent and what you want to do with it.
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LVL 13

Author Comment

ID: 37783976
ok the figures are of one year

Say the figures are
Apples     Oranges
12                     9
2                      66
232                  5258
23                    555
53                    68

I am trying to use the figures as forcaster for next year

So I have a price figure x average of apples to get revenue (but average seems not the best option IMO?)
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 37783992
Standard statistics would be mean (average) and standard deviation (spread around the average).

You can do these calculations (as well as generate random numbers to test) in Excel.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 37784003
What do those numbers mean?

Numbers of apples, cost of apples, ...?

What does the series of numbers mean?  Is it a function of time?   In weeks, or months, ... ?
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LVL 13

Author Comment

ID: 37784086
Average                     Standard Dev
2.702068966            1.409153394

9.055578427            1.381641658

12.96546873            1.605291381

17.35004248            1.305662328

22.85169104            1.052316898

36.86032306            7.809687104

71.86956522            17.55706286

127.856833              11.12366758

Function of months (montly sales in terms of numbers sold) Should I use the average to forcast next year data? (or is there better figure I can derive - I am concerned because the numbers are so apart/deviates)

The above is the actual figures
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 37784159
best fit to what?
-
What is the best way to represent a set of random data? (random numbers)"
If you are dealing with random numbers, there is no way to predict the next numbers
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LVL 13

Author Comment

ID: 37784215
When I say best-fit, the closest figure that better represents a month's sale of apples?
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LVL 27

Accepted Solution

d-glitch earned 2000 total points
ID: 37784278
Which month is which?  It matters.

The sales of fruit are typically seasonal, with lots of interest and activity around Fall Harvest time.

The best way to predict next years sales is to use this years sales directly , month by month.

Unless you have other information -- there was a drought or a forest fire, or an apple sauce factory started operation down the street - there is nothing else to do.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 37784302
If you have several years worth of data, you could average it month by month and maybe get a better prediction.

If the sales are changing over the course of years because of dietary trends or a growing population, you might want to do month by month linear regression.

But you really need to have real numbers.
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LVL 13

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37784366
Thanks!
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