Random Variables - Mean, Variance, Standard Deviation
A Random Variable is a set of possible values from a random experiment.
Example: Tossing a coin: we could get Heads or Tails.
Let's give them the values Heads=0 and Tails=1 and we have a Random Variable "X":
- We have an experiment (like tossing a coin)
- We give values to each event
- The set of values is a Random Variable
Learn more at Random Variables.
Mean, Variance and Standard Deviation
They have special notation:
- μ is the Mean of X and is also called the Expected Value of X
- Var(X) is the Variance of X
- σ is the Standard Deviation of X
Mean or Expected Value
When we know the probability p of every value x we can calculate the Expected Value (Mean) of X:
μ = Σxp
Note: Σ is Sigma Notation, and means to sum up.
To calculate the Expected Value:
- multiply each value by its probability
- sum them up
It is a weighted mean: values with higher probability have higher contribution to the mean.
The Variance is:
Var(X) = Σx2p − μ2
To calculate the Variance:
- square each value and multiply by its probability
- sum them up and we get Σx2p
- then subtract the square of the Expected Value μ2
The Standard Deviation is the square root of the Variance:
σ = √Var(X)
An example will help!
You plan to open a new McDougals Fried Chicken, and found these stats for similar restaurants:
Using that as probabilities for your new restaurant's profit, what is the Expected Value and Standard Deviation?
The Random Variable is X = 'possible profit'.
Sum up xp and x2p:
|Σp = 1||Σxp = 25||Σx2p = 3750|
μ = Σxp = 25
Var(X) = Σx2p − μ2 = 3750 − 252 = 3750 − 625 = 3125
σ = √3125 = 56 (to nearest whole number)
But remember these are in thousands of dollars, so:
- μ = $25,000
- σ = $56,000
So you might expect to make $25,000, but with a very wide deviation possible.
Let's try that again, but with a much higher probability for $50,000:
Now with different probabilities (the $50,000 value has a high probability of 0.7 now):
|Σp = 1||Sums:||Σxp = 45||Σx2p = 4250|
μ = Σxp = 45
Var(X) = Σx2p − μ2 = 4250 − 452 = 4250 − 2025 = 2225
σ = √2225 = 47 (to nearest whole number)
In thousands of dollars:
- μ = $45,000
- σ = $47,000
The mean is now much closer to the most probable value.
And the standard deviation is a little smaller (showing that the values are more central.)
Random Variables can be either Discrete or Continuous:
- Discrete Data can only take certain values (such as 1,2,3,4,5)
- Continuous Data can take any value within a range (such as a person's height)
Here we looked only at discrete data, as finding the Mean, Variance and Standard Deviation of continuous data needs Integration.
A Random Variable is a variable whose possible values are numerical outcomes of a random experiment.
The Mean (Expected Value) is: μ = Σxp
The Variance is: Var(X) = Σx2p − μ2
The Standard Deviation is: σ = √Var(X)