Discrete variable

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Discrete variable
  • A variable that can take on only a finite number of values.
  • All qualitative variables are discrete; some quantitative variables are discrete (such as performance rated as 1,2,3,4, or 5, or temperature rounded to the nearest degree).
  • A variable that can take on an infinite number of possible values is known as continuous.
  • Sometimes, a variable that takes on enough discrete values may be considered to be continuous for practical purposes. One example is time to the nearest millisecond.


The following are examples of discrete variables:

  • Gender
  • Eye color (brown, blue, green, hazel)
  • Age in years
  • Number of days it snowed
  • Number correct on a 5-question test

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Web Resources

  • Statistics Online Computational Resource - Types of Data
  • Online Statistics: An Interactive Multimedia Course of Study, Chapter: 1. Introduction, Section: Variables


Portions of this entry were adapted from