# Dictionary Definition

average adj

1 approximating the statistical norm or average
or expected value; "the average income in New England is below that
of the nation"; "of average height for his age"; "the mean annual
rainfall" [syn: mean(a)]

2 lacking special distinction, rank, or status;
commonly encountered; "average people"; "the ordinary (or common)
man in the street" [syn: ordinary]

3 of no exceptional quality or ability; "a novel
of average merit"; "only a fair performance of the sonata"; "in
fair health"; "the caliber of the students has gone from mediocre
to above average"; "the performance was middling at best" [syn:
fair, mediocre, middling]

4 around the middle of a scale of evaluation of
physical measures; "an orange of average size"; "intermediate
capacity"; "a plane with intermediate range"; "medium bombers"
[syn: intermediate,
medium]

5 relating to or constituting the most frequent
value in a distribution; "the modal age at which American novelists
reach their peak is 30" [syn: modal(a)]

6 relating to or constituting the middle value of
an ordered set of values (or the average of the middle two in an
even-numbered set); "the median value of 17, 20, and 36 is 20";
"the median income for the year was $15,000" [syn: median(a)] n : a
statistic describing the location of a distribution; "it set the
norm for American homes" [syn: norm]

### Verb

1 amount to or come to an average, without loss
or gain; "The number of hours I work per work averages out to 40"
[syn: average
out]

2 achieve or reach on average; "He averaged a
C"

3 compute the average of [syn: average
out]

# User Contributed Dictionary

## English

### Pronunciation

- /ˈævəɹɪdʒ/, /"

# Extensive Definition

In mathematics, an average, or
central tendency of a data set refers
to a measure of the "middle" or "expected"
value of the data set. There are many different descriptive
statistics that can be chosen as a measurement of the central
tendency of the data items.

The most common method is the
arithmetic
mean, but there are many other types of averages.The average is
calculated by combining the measurements related to a group of
people or objects, to compute a number as being the average of the
group.

## Calculation

### Arithmetic mean

An average is a single value that is meant to typify a list of values. If all the numbers in the list are the same, then this number should be used. If the numbers are not all the same, an easy way to get a representative value from a list is to randomly pick any number from the list. However, the word 'average' is usually reserved for more sophisticated methods that are generally found to be more useful.The most common type of
average is the arithmetic
mean, often simply called the mean. The arithmetic mean of two
numbers, such as 2 and 8, is obtained by finding a value A such
that 2 + 8 = A + A. It is then simple to find that A = (2 + 8)/2 =
5. Switching the order of 2 and 8 to read 8 and 2 does not change
the resulting value obtained for A. The mean 5 is not less than the
minimum 2 nor greater than the maximum 8. If we increase the number
of terms in the list for which we want an average, we get, for
example, that the arithmetic mean of 2, 8, and 11 is found by
solving for the value of A in the equation 2 + 8 + 11 = A + A + A.
It is simple to find that A = (2 + 8 + 11)/3 = 7.

Again, changing the order of
the three members of the list does not change the result: A = (8 +
11 + 2)/3 = 7, and that 7 is between 2 and 11. This summation
method is easily generalized for lists with any number of elements.
However, the mean of a list of integers is not necessarily an
integer. "The average family has 1.7 children" is a jarring way of
making a statement that is more appropriately expressed by "the
average number of children in the collection of families examined
is 1.7".

### Geometric mean

With geometric mean, instead of adding numbers, the numbers are multiplied. Thus, the geometric mean of 2 and 8 is obtained by solving for G in the following equation: 2 \cdot 8 = G \cdot G. Thus, the geometric mean of 2 and 8 is G = \sqrt = 4. And again it is seen that changing the order of the members of the list to be averaged does not change the result: G = \sqrt = 4. In order to make sense of the requirement that the mean must be at least as big as the smallest member of the list and no bigger than the largest, the geometric mean is usually only applied to lists of positive numbers, not to lists that can include negative numbers.### Mode and median

The most frequently occurring number in a list of numbers is called the mode. So the mode of the list (1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4) is 3. The mode is not necessarily well defined. The list (1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5) has the two modes 2 and 3. The mode can be subsumed under the general method of defining averages by understanding it as taking the list and setting each member of the list equal to the most common value in the list if there is a most common value. This list is then equated to the resulting list with all values replaced by the same value. Since they are already all the same, this does not require any change.To find the median, order the list according
to its elements' magnitude and then repeatedly remove the pair
consisting of the highest and lowest values until either one or two
values are left. If exactly one value is left, it is the median; if
two values, the median is the arithmetic mean of these two. This
method takes the list 1, 7, 3, 13 and orders it to read 1, 3, 7,
13. Then the 1 and 13 are removed to obtain the list 3, 7. Since
there are two elements in this remaining list, the median is their
arithmetic mean, (3 + 7)/2 = 5. Now do the same for the equal-sized
list consisting of all the same value M: M, M, M, M. It is already
ordered. We remove the two end values to get M, M. We take their
arithmetic mean to get M. Finally, set this result equal to our
previous result to get M = 5.

### Annualized return

The annualized return is a type of average used in finance. For example, if there are two years in which the return in the first year is -10% and the return in the second year is +60%, then the annualized return, R, can be obtained by solving the equation: . The value of R that makes this equation true is 20%. Note that changing the order to find the annualized returns of +60% and -10% gives the same result as the annualized returns of -10% and +60%.This method can be generalized
to examples in which the periods are not all of one-year duration.
Annualization of a set of returns is a variation on the geometric
average that provides the intensive property of a return per year
corresponding to a list of returns. For example, consider a period
of a half of a year for which the return is -23% and a period of
two and one half years for which the return is +13%. The annualized
return for the combined period is the single year return, R, that
is the solution of the following equation: , giving an annualized
return R of 6.00%.

## Types

The table of mathematical symbols explains the symbols used below.## Solutions to variational problems

Several measures of central tendency can be characterized as solving a variational problem, in the sense of the calculus of variations, namely minimizing variation from the center. That is, given a measure of statistical dispersion, one asks for a measure of central tendency that minimizes variation: such that variation from the center is minimal among all choices of center. In a quip, "dispersion precedes central tendency". In the sense of L^p spaces, the correspondence is: Thus standard deviation about the mean is lower than standard deviation about any other point; the uniqueness of this characterization of mean and midrange follows from convex optimization, as the L^2 and L^\infty norms are convex functions. Note that the median in this sense is not in general unique, and in fact any point between the two central points of a discrete distribution minimizes average absolute deviation.Similarly, the mode
minimizes qualitative
variation.

## Miscellaneous types

Other more sophisticated
averages are: trimean,
trimedian, and
normalized
mean. These are usually more representative of the whole data
set.

One can create one's own
average metric using generalized
f-mean:

- y = f^\left(\frac\right),

where f is any invertible
function. The harmonic mean is an example of this using f(x) = 1/x,
and the geometric mean is another, using f(x) = log x.
Another example, expmean (exponential mean) is a mean using the
function f(x) = ex, and it is inherently biased towards the higher
values. However, this method for generating means is not general
enough to capture all averages. A more general method for defining
an average, y, takes any function of a list g(x1, x2, ..., xn),
which is symmetric under permutation of the members of the list,
and equates it to the same function with the value of the average
replacing each member of the list: g(x1, x2, ..., xn) = g(y, y,
..., y). This most general definition still captures the important
property of all averages that the average of a list of identical
elements is that element itself. The function g(x1, x2, ..., xn)
=x1+x2+ ...+ xn provides the arithmetic mean. The function g(x1,
x2, ..., xn) =x1·x2· ...· xn provides the geometric mean. The
function g(x1, x2, ..., xn) =x1−1+x2−1+ ...+
xn−1 provides the harmonic mean. (See John Bibby (1974)
“Axiomatisations of the average and a further generalisation of
monotonic sequences,” Glasgow Mathematical Journal, vol. 15, pp.
63–65.)

## In data streams

The concept of an average can
be applied to a stream of data as well as a bounded set, the goal
being to find a value about which recent data is in some way
clustered. The stream may be distributed in time, as in samples
taken by some data acquisition system from which we want to remove
noise, or in space, as in pixels in an image from which we want to
extract some property. An easy-to-understand and widely used
application of average to a stream is the simple moving
average in which we compute the arithmetic mean of the most
recent N data items in the stream. To advance one position in the
stream, we add 1/N times the new data item and subtract 1/N times
the data item N places back in the stream.

## Etymology

The original meaning of the
word average is "damage sustained at sea": the same word is found
in Arabic as awar, in Italian as avaria and in French as avarie.
Hence an average adjuster is a person who assesses an insurable
loss.

Marine damage is either
particular average, which is borne only by the owner of the damaged
property, or general
average, where the owner can claim a proportional contribution
from all the parties to the marine venture. The type of
calculations used in adjusting general average gave rise to the use
of "average" to mean "arithmetic mean".

## Footnotes

## External links

average in German:
Mittelwert

average in Modern Greek
(1453-): Μέσος όρος

average in Esperanto:
Averaĝo

average in Spanish:
Promedio

average in Finnish:
Keskiluku

average in French:
Moyenne

average in Italian: Media
(statistica)

average in Japanese:
平均

average in Dutch:
Gemiddelde

average in Norwegian:
Gjennomsnitt

average in Polish:
Średnia

average in Portuguese:
Média

average in Slovenian: Srednja
vrednost

average in Thai:
แนวโน้มสู่ส่วนกลาง

# Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Everyman, Public, accustomed, amidships, as a rule, average
man, average out, avoid extremes, balance, banal, besetting, bisect, bourgeois, center, central, common, common man, common run,
commonplace,
conventional,
core, current, customarily, customary, dominant, double, epidemic, equatorial, equidistant, everyday, everyman, everywoman, fair, fairish, familiar, fold, garden, garden-variety, general, generality, generally, girl next door,
golden mean, habitual,
halfway, happy medium,
homme moyen sensuel, household, in the main,
indifferent,
interior, intermediary, intermediate, juste-milieu,
mean, medial, median, mediocre, mediocrity, mediterranean, medium, mesial, mezzo, mid, middle, middle course, middle
ground, middle point, middle position, middle state, middle-class,
middle-of-the-road, middlemost, middling, midland, midmost, midpoint, midships, midway, moderate, no great shakes,
norm, normal, normally, normative, nuclear, ordinarily, ordinary, ordinary Joe,
ordinary run, pair off, pandemic, par, plastic, popular, predominant, predominating, prescriptive, prevailing, prevalent, rampant, regnant, regular, regulation, reigning, rife, routine, ruck, rule, ruling, run, run-of-mine, run-of-the-mill,
running, so so, so-so,
split the difference, standard, stereotyped, stock, strike a balance, suburban, take the average,
typical, typically, undistinguished,
unexceptional,
universal, unnoteworthy, unremarkable, unspectacular, usual, usually, vernacular, via media,
wonted