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Mode: Characteristics, Applications and Limitations

The mode is a statistical term that refers to the most frequently occurring number found in a set of numbers. The mode is found by collecting and organizing data in order to count the frequency of each result. The result with the highest count of occurrences is the mode of the set, also referred to as the modal value.

Examples of Mode

For example, in the following list of numbers, 16 is the mode since it appears more times than any other number in the set:

  • 3, 3, 6, 9, 16, 16, 16, 27, 27, 37, 48

A set of numbers can have more than one mode (this is known as bimodal if there are 2 modes) if there are multiple numbers that occur with equal frequency, and more times than the others in the set.

  • 3, 3, 3, 9, 16, 16, 16, 27, 37, 48

In the above example, both the number 3 and the number 16 are modes as they each occur three times and no other number occurs more than that.

If no number in a set of numbers occurs more than once, that set has no mode:

  • 3, 6, 9, 16, 27, 37, 48

Advantages of the mode include:

  • It is easy to understand and simple to calculate.
  • It is not affected by extremely large or small values.
  • It can be located just by inspection in un-grouped data and discrete frequency distribution.
  • It can be useful for qualitative data.
  • It can be computed in an open-end frequency table.
  • It can be located graphically.

Disadvantages of the mode include:

  • It is not well defined.
  • It is not based on all the values.
  • It is stable for large values so it will not be well defined if the data consists of a small number of values.
  • It is not capable of further mathematical treatment.
  • Sometimes the data has one or more than one mode, and sometimes the data has no mode at all.




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