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A. Weighing by difference
The mass of a coin is the difference between masses of the coins on the balance before and after the
removal of that coin from the balance.
Mass of the coins before removing a coin = 20.1234 g
Mass of the coins after removing a coin = 18.1200 g
Mass of the coin removed = 20.1234 g 18.1200 g = 1.9234 g
B. Descriptive statistics
a. Mean

x , is a commonly used measure of central tendency or the most probable value for an

The mean,

observation. It can be computed using the following formula:

x =




the sum of all measurements and n is the number of measurements.

b. Standard deviation
The standard deviation, s, is a measure of the precision or spread of data. It is given by


( x i x )2

where n-1 is called the degrees of freedom.

c. Standard error of the mean
The standard error of the mean refers to the standard deviation of all possible values of the mean,

x . It

is related to the standard deviation, s.



c. Range
The range of is another measure of the precision. It is the difference of the largest and the smallest values.

range=x largest x smallest

d. Relative standard deviation

The relative standard deviation (RSD; also known as coefficient of variation) is another widely used
measure of precision. It is given by the following formula

RSD= x 100
e. Relative range
The relative range is an analog of RSD, where s is replaced by range.

Relative range=

x 100

f. Pooled standard deviation

If there are several sets of data for a particular measurement, we can get a better estimate of the
population standard deviation by pooling the data than by using only one data set. The pooled standard
deviation is given by the following formula

where k is the number of data sets.

C. Inferential Statistics
a. Confidence interval
The confidence interval is a range of values which we reasonably assume with certain probability
includes the true value of the mean (i.e., the population mean). It is usually computed at 95% confidence
level using the following formula

Confidence interval=x

t n1 s

where t a statistical tool called Students t. The value of t depends on the defined level of confidence and
the degrees of freedom (as indicated by the subscript n-1). Values of t are tabulated in statistical
references (e.g., Table).
b. t-test
The t-test is a statistic commonly used to determine if the difference between two means is significant. In
this experiment, this test is used to compare the masses of coins from two different years. In this case we
have two sample means,

x 1 and

x 2 . The null hypothesis (H ) is that the masses of coins in two


different year groups, i.e., Ho: 1 = 2, or 1 - 2 = 0. The test will determine whether (

x 1 -

x 2 )

differs significantly from zero. However, the two data groups might have different sample sizes, n 1 and n2,
and two different standard deviations, s1 and s2. If these standard deviations are not statistically different
(see F test), a pooled estimate, s, of the standard deviation can be calculated using the following equation


( n1 1 ) s 12 + ( n21 ) s 22
(n 1+ n22)

The statistic t is then calculated from the following formula to test the null hypothesis, H o: 1 = 2.

x 1x 2


1 1
n1 n2

where t has



2 degrees of freedom.

c. Paired t-test
In cases where two methods are both applied to the same set of materials, it is not appropriate to
use t-test for comparing two means because it cannot separate the variation due to the method of
obtaining the data from that due to variation between the test materials. In this case the two
effects are confounded. To overcome this complication, the difference, d, between each pair of
results is considered instead of the means. If there is no difference between the two methods,
then these differences are drawn from a population with mean of differences,
, equal to 0.

To test this null hypothesis, we test whether the mean of the differences of each pair of data, d , differs
significantly from zero using the statistic t. We calculate the statistic t using the following formula


d n

where n,

d and s d are the number of pairs, mean and standard deviation respectively of d values,

the differences between the paired values. The number of degreed of freedom of t is n 1.
d. F test
The significance tests described previously are used for comparing means and hence for detecting
systematic errors. In many cases it is also important to compare the standard deviations, i.e., the random
errors of the two sets of data. In this case we use the F-test. This test uses the ratio of sample variances,
i.e. the ratio of the squares of the standard deviations,

s 1 / s 2 . Specifically, we are testing whether

the difference between two sample variances is significant, i.e., to test H o:

. The statistic

F is calculated using the following formula:

F= 2
where the subscripts 1 and 2 are allocated so that F is always 1. The number of degrees of freedom of
the numerator and denominator are n1-1 and n2-1 respectively.
The t and F statistics are compared to corresponding critical values (dependent on the number of degrees
of freedom) tabulated in many statistical references. If the calculated t or F is greater than the critical
value, then the null hypothesis is rejected and significant difference is demonstrated. In this case, t-test
would indicate that there is presence of systematic errors, while F test would show that there is a
difference in precisions of the two sets of data.
These statistical tests can also be performed using Spreadsheet or statistical software.