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What is the "Mode?"

The "mode" is yet another type of average value. It is a summary statistic obtained by finding the most frequent value. For example; the mode of 1, 2, 3, & 3 is 3. If two different values occur the same number of times, there are two modes (also referred to as bimodal). For example; the modes of 1, 2, 2, 3, & 3 are 2 & 3. A data set might not have a mode if the data values never repeat. If this happens, you may want to divide the data into equally spaced bins to determine where the greatest data density is occurring. This will give you the most frequently occurring value range, which is analogous to the "mode." But what does this number tell us about the data?

The "Mode" Is the Most Frequent Value

The "mode" occurs more often than any other value. Therefore, it is the most frequent value. If you're playing a game where you have to guess what the next number that will be, and if close doesn't count, pick the "mode." Because the mode has occurred more frequently than any other number, it can also be considered the most typical number. Therefore, it is a very useful number to know!

Unfortunately, to determine the "mode" you need to know how the data is distributed. If the data is shown with a histogram the "mode" is simply the value which corresponds to the highest point(s) on the curve.


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Copyright 2000, Wayne Pafko