What Does “Mean” Mean in Measurement?

When it comes to measurements or data analysis, the term ‘mean’ is synonymous with ‘average,’ which is a commonly used concept, especially in statistics and mathematics. It’s a calculated “central” value of a range of numbers. But, before diving into a detailed discussion, let us differentiate between the two words ‘mean’ and ‘measurement’.

‘Measurement’ is the process of determining the size, length, or amount of something by using standard units such as inches, meters, or grams. It can also refer to the size, length, or amount that has been determined.

On the other hand, ‘mean’ is a statistical measurement of central tendency which denotes the average value of a particular set of numbers. It is calculated by adding up all the values in the dataset and then dividing by the number of values present in that set.

To provide more context, let’s take a simple example. Imagine you have the scores of five participants from a game: 3, 7, 5, 13, and 20. To determine the mean score of the game, you would add all these five numbers up (which is 48) and then divide them by 5 (as there are five participants). The result is 9.6. Therefore, 9.6 is the ‘mean’ score of the game.

One important thing to consider about the mean is that it is affected by skewed data. If the dataset contains extremely high or low values (referred to as ‘outliers’), the mean might not accurately reflect the ‘typical’ value in a dataset. In such cases, other statistical measures like median (middle value) or mode (most frequently appearing value) might be more relevant.

Despite this vulnerability to outliers, the mean is widely used in various areas including economics, computer science, and physics due to its simplicity and significant mathematical properties. For example, if researchers want to know the average income of individuals in a region, they can add up everyone’s income and then divide it by the number of individuals to get a mean income.

Furthermore, the mean is used in measurement devices to provide ‘average’ readings. For instance, an anemometer (a device that measures wind speed) might report a mean wind speed over a specific duration.

In summary, if someone is referring to a ‘mean’ in ‘measurement’, they’re essentially talking about determining an average of a given set of numerical values. Whether it is weighing a set of objects, calculating statistical data, or analysing survey results – the ‘mean’ is an immensely helpful tool to make sense of numbers.