Everyday we come across a lot of information in the form of facts, numerical figures, tables, graphs, etc. These are provided by newspapers, televisions, magazines and other means of communication. These may relate to cricket batting or bowling averages, profits of a company, temperatures of cities, expenditures in various sectors of a five year plan, polling results, and so on. These facts or figures, which are numerical or otherwise, collected with a definite purpose are called data. Data is the plural form of the Latin word datum. Of course, the word ‘data’ is not new for you. You have studied about data and data handling in earlier classes.
Let us begin with an exercise on gathering data by performing the following activity.
Activity 1 : Divide the students of your class into four groups. Allot each group the work of collecting one of the following kinds of data:
(i) Heights of 20 students of your class.
(ii) Number of absentees in each day in your class for a month.
As soon as the work related to collection of data is over, the investigator has to find out ways to present them in a form which is meaningful, easily understood and gives its main features at a glance. Let us now recall the various ways of presenting the data through some examples.
The representation of data by tables has already been discussed. Now let us turn our attention to another representation of data, i.e., the graphical representation. It is well said that one picture is better than a thousand words. Usually comparisons among the individual items are best shown by means of graphs. The representation then becomes easier to understand than the actual data. We shall study the following graphical representations in this section.
Earlier in this chapter, we represented the data in various forms through frequency distribution tables, bar graphs, histograms and frequency polygons. Now, the question arises if we always need to study all the data to ‘make sense’ of it, or if we can make out some important features of it by considering only certain representatives of the data. This is possible, by using measures of central tendency or averages.
In this chapter, you have studied the following points:
1. Facts or figures, collected with a definite purpose, are called data.
2. Statistics is the area of study dealing with the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data.