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Data may come from a population or from a sample. Small letters like x or y generally are used to represent data values. Most data can be put into the following categories:

  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative

Qualitative data are the result of categorizing or describing attributes of a population. Hair color, blood type, ethnic group, the car a person drives, and the street a person lives on are examples of qualitative data. Qualitative data are generally described by words or letters. For instance, hair color might be black, dark brown, light brown, blonde, gray, or red. Blood type might be AB+, O-, or B+. Researchers often prefer to use quantitative data over qualitative data because it lends itself more easily to mathematical analysis. For example, it does not make sense to find an average hair color or blood type.

Quantitative data are always numbers. Quantitative data are the result of counting or measuring attributes of a population. Amount of money, pulse rate, weight, number of people living in your town, and number of students who take statistics are examples of quantitative data. Quantitative data may be either discrete or continuous .

All data that are the result of counting are called quantitative discrete data . These data take on only certain numerical values. If you count the number of phone calls you receive for each day of the week, you might get values such as zero, one, two, or three.

All data that are the result of measuring are quantitative continuous data assuming that we can measure accurately. Measuring angles in radians might result in such numbers as π 6 , π 3 , π 2 , π , 3 π 4 , and so on. If you and your friends carry backpacks with books in them to school, the numbers of books in the backpacks are discrete data and the weights of the backpacks are continuous data.

Data sample of quantitative discrete data

The data are the number of books students carry in their backpacks. You sample five students. Two students carry three books, one student carries four books, one student carries two books, and one student carries one book. The numbers of books (three, four, two, and one) are the quantitative discrete data.

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The data are the number of machines in a gym. You sample five gyms. One gym has 12 machines, one gym has 15 machines, one gym has ten machines, one gym has 22 machines, and the other gym has 20machines. What type of data is this?

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quantitative discrete data

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Data sample of quantitative continuous data

The data are the weights of backpacks with books in them. You sample the same five students. The weights (in pounds) of their backpacks are 6.2, 7, 6.8, 9.1, 4.3. Notice that backpacks carrying three books can have different weights. Weights are quantitative continuous data because weights are measured.

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The data are the areas of lawns in square feet. You sample five houses. The areas of the lawns are 144 sq. feet, 160 sq. feet, 190 sq. feet, 180 sq. feet, and 210 sq. feet. What type of data is this?

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quantitative continuous data

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You go to the supermarket and purchase three cans of soup (19 ounces) tomato bisque, 14.1 ounces lentil, and 19 ounces Italian wedding), two packages of nuts (walnuts and peanuts), four different kinds of vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and carrots), and two desserts (16 ounces Cherry Garcia ice cream and two pounds (32 ounces chocolate chip cookies).

Name data sets that are quantitative discrete, quantitative continuous, and qualitative.

One Possible Solution:

  • The three cans of soup, two packages of nuts, four kinds of vegetables and two desserts are quantitative discrete data because you count them.
  • The weights of the soups (19 ounces, 14.1 ounces, 19 ounces) are quantitative continuous data because you measure weights as precisely as possible.
  • Types of soups, nuts, vegetables and desserts are qualitative data because they are categorical.
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Try to identify additional data sets in this example.

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Source:  OpenStax, Introductory statistics. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11562/1.18
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