# Range: Measure of Dispersion

Measure of Central Tendency provides typical value about the data set, but it does not tell the actual story about data i.e. mean, median and mode are enough to get summary information, though we know about the center of the data. In other words, we can measure the center of the data by looking at averages (mean, median, mode). These measure tell nothing about the spread of data. So for more information about data we need some other measure, such as measure of dispersion or spread.

Spread of data can be measured by calculating the range of data; range tell us over how many numbers of data extends. Range (an absolute measure of dispersion) can be found by subtracting highest value (called upper bound) in data from smallest value (called lower bound) in data. i.e.

Range = Upper Bound – Lowest Bound

OR

Range = Largest Value – Smallest Value

This absolute measure of dispersion have disadvantages as range only describes the width of the data set (i.e. only spread out) measure in same unit as data, but it does not gives the real picture of how data is distributed. If data has outliers, using range to describe the spread of that can be very misleading as range is sensitive to outliers. So we need to be careful in using range as it does not give the full picture of what’s going between the highest and lowest value. It might give misleading picture of the spread of the data because it is based only on the two extreme values. It is therefore an unsatisfactory measure of dispersion.

However range is widely used in statistical process control such as control charts of manufactured products, daily temperature, stock prices etc., applications as it is very easy to calculate. It is an absolute measure of dispersion, its relatives measure known as the coefficient of dispersion defined the the relation

\[Coefficient\,\, of\,\, Dispersion = \frac{x_m-x_0}{x_m-x_0}\]

Coefficient of dispersion is a pure dimensionless and is used for comparison purpose.