# What does the standard deviation of a data set describe?

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The standard deviation of a data set describes how much do the data differ from their mean.

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The standard deviation of a data set describes the difference between the data in the set and their mean. The simpliest interpretation could be: "The higher deviation, the more differences there are in the data set". It is rarely non-zero. In fact, as far as I know, the only possibility for a data set to have zero deviation is when it contains only the same numbers.

**Example**

Let there be 2 companies A and B.

In company A the mean salary is $3,000 and the deviation $50.

In company B the mean salary is $2,800 and the deviation $300.

The interpretation of these values is that in company A the salary is between $2,950 and $3,050, while in B it is between $2,500 and $3,100.

The difference in deviation shows, that in A salaries are close to the mean, while in B the range of salaries is much bigger.

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