At this point, you should be familiar with what a histogram displays. In this lesson, we’re going to build on those skills by learning the best way to describe a statistical distribution.

While many people know the functions to plot a histogram, few spend the time to learn how to fully, and concisely communicate what it means.

In this lesson, you will learn how to interpret a distribution using the following five features of a dataset:

  • Center
  • Spread
  • Skew
  • Modality
  • Outliers

If you’re one for mnemonics, maybe this will help:

Cream Shoes are Stylish, Modern, and Outstanding.

Throughout this lesson, we will use data from the United States Health and Human Services Department to compare the cost of the same medical procedure at over 2,000 hospitals across the country.


The histogram to the right displays the average cost of chest pain treatment for over 2,000 hospitals across the United States. As you work your way through this lesson, you will fill in the blanks for the following statement about this histogram:

This histogram displays the distribution of chest pain cost for over 2,000 hospitals across the United States. The average and median costs are $?????????? and $??????????, respectively. Given that the data is ??????????modal, with one local maximum and a ??????????-skew, the fact that the average is ?????????? than the median, matches our expectation.

The range of costs is very large, $??????????, with the smallest cost equal to $?????????? and the largest cost equal to $??????????. There is one hospital, ??????????, that charges far more than the rest at $??????????.

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