Applied Mathematics


What other variables are often used in statistics?

When an experiment is conducted, variables manipulated by the experimenter are called independent variables (also independent factors), while others measured from the subjects are called dependent variables (also dependent measures). For example, consider a hypothetical experiment on the effect of lack of sleep on reaction time: Subjects either stayed awake, slept for 2 hours for every 24, 5 hours for every 24, or 8 hours for every 24; they then had their reaction times tested. The independent variables would be the hours slept by each person and the dependent variables would be the reaction time.

Some variables can be measured on a continuous scale—a continuous variable being one that, within the limits the variable ranges, can take on any value possible. For example, we can make the time to eat a lunch at a certain restaurant be the continuous variable because it can take any number of minutes or hours to finish the meal. But other variables can only take on a limited number of values—or dependent variables. For example, if the variables were a test score from 1 to 10, then only those 10 possible values would be allowed; these are called discrete variables.


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