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Table of contents
What is Mean?
Arithmetic Mean 
Geometric Mean
Harmonic Mean
What is Average?                
Difference between Average and Mean
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is average called mean?
What is the formula to calculate the average?
What is the definition of median in statistics?
Why is mean better than average?
What is the average value of 25, 20, 23, and 22?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Difference between Mean and Average

Author Sohail Ali
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Saurav Prateek
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To understand the difference between mean and average, we must understand what both of them are. A lot of time, the Mean and Average are used interchangeably. Average is usually used in general day-to-day conversations, while the mean is used in statistical and technical terms.

difference between mean and average

Comprehending the difference between Mean and Average is crucial since sometimes it may improve our understanding.

What is Mean?

Mean is an essential concept in Statistics and Mathematics. Mean is used in the measurement of central tendency. In terms of statistics, the mean for a given set is equal to the sum of all the values in the set divided by the total number of values in that particular set. 

There are three most used ways to calculate the mean of the dataset. For simplification, let us consider a set of 'n' elements with values 2, 7, 9, 10, and 15. We will use the same example for our calculations below.

Arithmetic Mean 

It is the simplest of all three and is just the sum of all values in a set divided by the total number of values.

Arithmetic Mean

Now, let’s find out the arithmetic mean for our dummy example.

Sum = (x1 + x2 + x3 + x4 + x5) = (2 + 7 + 9 + 10 + 15) = 43 and n = 5

Arithmetic mean = 43 / 5 = 8.6

The arithmetic mean is useful when the data is evenly distributed, as it can be easily distorted if the set contains some outliers.

Geometric Mean

The geometric mean is the nth root of the product of all n values, where n is the number of values in the set.

Geometric Mean

Let's calculate the Geometric mean for the above example: 

Geometric mean = (2 * 7 * 9 * 10 * 15) ^ (1 / 5)

         = (18900) ^ (1 / 5) 

         = 7.16625

The geometric mean does not allow negative values to avoid complications of imaginary roots. It only contains positive values into consideration for calculation. The geometric mean is usually used in growth rates, like population growth, interest rates, and stock prices.

Harmonic Mean

Harmonic Mean is the reciprocal of the average of reciprocals of all the numbers in the set. Like the geometric mean, the harmonic mean does not consider negative or zero values for calculation. The harmonic mean is used in situations rate of change or average rate and ratios need to be calculated.

Harmonic Mean

Now, let's calculate the harmonic mean of the same example.

Denominator = ((1 / 2) + (1 / 7) + (1 / 9) + (1 / 10) + (1 / 15)) 

          = 0.5 + 0.142 + 0.111 + 0.1 + 0.066

          = 0.919

Harmonic mean = 5 / 0.919 = 5.44

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What is Average?                

The average is the estimation of the center point of the set of numbers. In simple terms, an Average is a single specific number that represents a given set of numbers.

The mathematical formula for the average is given as 


In statistics, the average is also called the arithmetic mean of the observations.

Let's look at an example of an average of a set for better understanding.


You are given a set of numbers: 2,  5,  6,  8, and 9. Calculate the average.

The sum of given numbers = 2  +  5  +  6  +  8  +  9 = 30
Now, average  = Sum of all terms  /  Total number of terms = 30 / 5

Hence, Average = 6

Difference between Average and Mean

Now that you have understood the difference between mean and average. Let's now see the comparison between both. 



The average is defined as the sum of all numbers in a set divided by the total numbers in the set. The mean is the mathematical average of numbers in sample data.
An average is also referred to as an arithmetic mean. In other words, the mean describes the average for a set of values.
Average is usually calculated for a set of values in the same range and close to each other. The mean is primarily used in statistical calculations where the set of values differ significantly from each other.
An average is a specific number that represents all the numbers in the set. Mean gives the central point of a set and is used in the measurement of central tendency.
We usually use average in day-to-day English conversations. Mean is usually used for technical and statistical terms.
The arithmetic mean can be referred to as a type of average. There are mainly three types of the mean. i.e., Arithmetic, Geometric, and Harmonic Mean.
The average is calculated for numbers that are uniformly distributed. Mean is used for any distribution of data.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is average called mean?

Average is nothing but the sum of all the values in a set divided by in a set. This value, when calculated, is the same as the arithmetic mean. 

What is the formula to calculate the average?

Average = sum of all the values / Number of values. For example, the average of numbers 2, 5, 8, and 9 is 24 divided by 4, which is 6.

What is the definition of median in statistics?

The median in statistics is an observation's middle value when arranged in ascending or descending order. 

Why is mean better than average?

The average is used for uniformly distributed values, but data is often complex and contains few outliers. For such data type, the mean is given preference over the average.

What is the average value of 25, 20, 23, and 22?

Average = total sum of all the numbers / Total numbers 

               = (25 + 20 + 23 + 22) / 4  = 90 / 4

               = 22.5


This article discusses the difference between mean and average. We hope this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge of average and mean. Also, the difference between mean and average. If you want to learn more, then check out our articles.

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