# Mean and Standard Deviation

The mean, indicated by μ (a lower case Greek mu), is the statistician's jargon for the average value of a signal. It is found just as you would expect: add all of the samples together, and divide by N. It looks like this in mathematical form:

In words, sum the values in the signal, xi, by letting the index, i, run from 0 to N-1. Then finish the calculation by dividing the sum by N. This is identical to the equation: μ =(x0 + x1 + x2 + ... + xN-1)/N. If you are not already familiar with Σ (upper case Greek sigma) being used to indicate summation, study these equations carefully, and compare them with the computer program in Table 2-1. Summations of this type are abundant in DSP, and you need to understand this notation fully. In electronics, the mean is commonly called the DC (direct current) value. Likewise, AC (alternating current) refers to how the signal fluctuates around the mean value. If the signal is a simple repetitive waveform, such as a sine or square wave, its excursions can be described by its peak-to-peak amplitude. Unfortunately, most acquired signals do not show a well defined peak-to-peak value, but have a random nature, such as the signals in Fig. 2-1. A more generalized method must be used in these cases, called the standard deviation, denoted by σ (a lower case Greek sigma). As a starting point, the expression,|xi-μ|, describes how far the ith sample deviates (differs) from the mean. The average deviation of a signal is found by summing the deviations of all the individual samples, and then dividing by the number of samples, N. Notice that we take the absolute value of each deviation before the summation; otherwise the positive and negative terms would average to zero. The average deviation provides a single number representing the typical distance that the samples are from the mean. While convenient and straightforward, the average deviation is almost never used in statistics. This is because it doesn't fit well...

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