Skip main navigation

Other Distributions

Most of the variables I’ve been showing you have a sort of bell curve to them. This is very common and reflects a common situation. Most people are in the middle and some people are at the extremes. Knowing the shape of a distribution tells you about that variable. It gives you insights into how it works. But I just want to mention that they don’t always have that shape. Here’s an example, we call the uniform distribution in which every score is equally likely in this case, I’ve counted how often different days of the week happen in a year. And that shouldn’t surprise you, they all happen equally often. No day of the week happens more on average.
So knowing that, again, gives you insights into what that variable is doing. And so there’s some value in graphing the histograms and looking at the shape. I’m not going to go through all the different ones, but there are many distributions that statisticians have come up with. And if you can just go ahead and look at the distribution of your data, you can kind of get some insights into what it’s doing. And if you’re interested, you can search on the internet for different distributions– I’ve got three other common ones on the screen here– and you can get a sense as to different shapes that data might take. All that to say, histogram your data.
When you look at your data visually, you’ll get a good insight into what that variable is doing.
This article is from the free online

Essential Mathematics for Data Analysis in Microsoft Excel

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education