# Are Averages Typical?

## Subject:

## Overview

Not necessarily, for example the average person has fewer than two legs! This is because some people have fewer than two legs but nobody has more than two, so dividing the total number of legs by the total number of people to get the average gives a number less than two. Average does not mean typical! The lecture will examine how the work in the 19th century of such mathematicians as Florence Nightingale, Adolphe Queteller and Karl Pearson on describing and quantifying variation and uncertainty laid the foundations for the theory of statistics as a mathematical discipline.

This is a part of the lecture series, *Shaping Modern Mathematics*. The other lectures in the series are as follows:

Ghosts of Departed Quantities: Calculus and its Limits

Polynomials and their Roots

From One to Many Geometries

The Queen of Mathematics

Modelling the World