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# Discrete vs. Continuous Data

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Author: Sophia Tutorial
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Differentiate between discrete and continuous data.

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Tutorial
what's covered
This tutorial will discuss types of data by contrasting the following types of data:

1. Discrete Data
2. Continuous Data
3. Discrete and Continuous Data in Practice

## 1. Discrete Data

Now both of these are numerical or quantitative data, but discrete data can only take on certain values within a range. Examples of discrete data would be the number of pets that someone has. Those can only take whole number values. You can't have half of a pet.

Rail cars on the train and shoe sizes--now you can have half size shoe sizes. But that's all you can have. You can't have quarter size shoe sizes, or eighth of size shoe sizes, or 0.01 shoe sizes. You can't say that you're a size 9 and an eighth. So there are only certain values that shoe size can take. That makes it discrete.

term to know
Discrete Data
Data that can only take so many different values.

## 2. Continuous Data

Now the difference between discrete and continuous is continuous data can take any value within a range. Some examples of data that are continuous are temperature, commute time, and wait. With all of these examples, you can take on any value within a range. So for instance, suppose you're talking about daytime temperature.

The daytime temperature could be something between 50 and 80 degrees on a summer's day, and it takes on any value between those. Same with commute time. One day it might take you 30 minutes and five seconds to get to work. The next day it might take you 32 minutes and 17 seconds.

And weight, one person might weigh 150.75 pounds, and one person might weigh 102.62 pounds. They can take on any value within a spectrum. As opposed to discrete values can only take certain values within a spectrum.

term to know
Continuous Data
Data that can take any value within an interval.

## 3. Discrete and Continuous Data in Practice

Determine if each situation is discrete or continuous.

## Video Transcription

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Now, let's take a look at a few examples and determine if a situation is discrete, or continuous. The time it takes to complete a race-- is this discrete or continuous? The time to complete a race or any task is continuous data. Time can take on any value. You can measure the time it takes to finish a race in hours, minutes, seconds, even fractions of a second.

The number of pairs of shoes you own-- discrete or continuous? This is discrete. You can't have half a pair. OK, I suppose if you lose a shoe, you can have half a pair. But then, it's no longer a pair. Am I right? Whatever the case, your number of pairs of shoes is not any number within a certain range. Your number of shoes is a specific whole number, which is therefore a discrete number.

The time it takes for a light bulb to burn out-- is this a discrete or continuous number? This would be continuous data. It could take any length of time for your light bulb to burn out, from 0 seconds up to many years. How about the number of green chocolate candies in a bag? Is that discrete or continuous? If you said discrete, you're correct. You typically would be dealing with only whole number values, unless the poor bag of candy is crushed.

Barometric pressure-- is this discrete or continuous? You should have said that barometric pressure is continuous because it can take any value within a certain range, usually somewhere around 30 inches hg.

try it
Question: Barometric pressure. Discrete or is it continuous?
Answer: You should have said that barometric pressure is continuous because it can take any value within a certain range, usually somewhere around 30.

Question: The number of pairs of shoes someone owns?
Answer: Discrete. You can't have half a pair--I suppose you can half a pair of shoes if you've lost one--but you can't have any number of pairs of shoes within a certain range. Typically, it takes only whole number values.

Question: What about the time for a light bulb to burn out?
Answer: That's continuous. It could take any length of time from zero seconds all the way to a couple of years.

Question: Number of green M&Ms in a bag?
Answer: Discrete. Typically, again, we're dealing only with whole number values.

summary
Quantitative data can be broken down into two subcategories. It can be called continuous. It can take on a range of values, or if it can only take certain values, we call it discrete. And every quantitative data measurement that we get is either going to be continuous or discrete. And the terms we used are continuous data, which can take on any number in a range; and discrete data, which can only take on certain values. This tutorial also put discrete and continuous data in practice to allow for some application!

Good Luck!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Jonathan Osters.

Terms to Know
Continuous Data

Data that can take any value within an interval.

Discrete Data

Data that can only take so many different values.

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