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What Is a Cumulative Frequency Histogram?

Jennifer Leigh
Jennifer Leigh

A cumulative frequency histogram is a graphical representation of the running totals of the frequencies that occur in a statistical situation that is being measured. A frequency is the number of times an event occurs during the course of a particular experiment. In essence, a cumulative frequency histogram shows the total number of data entries that the frequency information is being based upon. It takes information from a regular frequency histogram, which shows how much data falls into each interval, and changes it slightly. Graphs, such as histograms, are utilized in many fields to easily and accurately show data sets and explain the data that was collected.

The vertical axis of a cumulative frequency histogram is labeled cumulative frequency, while the horizontal axis is labeled by the name of the intervals being measured. The intervals on the horizontal axis are set up by the individual who is measuring the frequencies and compiling the data, and can be any type of interval that he or she chooses. The bars are placed between each interval, with the first frequency interval measurement on the left side of the graph. As the frequency become more cumulative towards the right side of the graph, the bars grow higher. The lowest bar will always be on the left and the highest bar on the right side of the cumulative frequency histogram.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The use of a cumulative frequency histogram is to graphically show the data as the number of frequencies increase. This is simply another statistical method for compiling the data in a way that can be helpful in certain scenarios, such as when creating a cumulative frequency curve. Data in a cumulative frequency histogram can be plotted against the upper boundaries of the data to make a cumulative frequency curve, which is helpful when looking for specific statistical information, such as quartiles and medians, in a large amount of data.

Frequency histograms, cumulative frequency histograms, and cumulative frequency curves are used in many fields when statistically analyzing data. In science, they are used when taking measurements of chemicals and properties. Mathematicians utilize these types of statistical tools to easily compute simple calculations, such as mean and median, in the form of a graph. They are also used because they are a good way to show data to people who are not overly familiar with complicated statistical techniques, but can understand the basic information when presented in graph form.

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