# Variance vs. Variation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on November 3, 2023
Variance quantifies the spread of a data set; variation refers to the differences within a group or over time.

## Key Differences

Variance is a statistical measure that represents the degree to which data points in a set are spread out. It indicates how much the individual data points differ from the mean of the set. Variation, however, is a broader term that refers to the presence of differences or changes in condition, form, or character in a population or between multiple entities or situations.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023
The term variance is often used in a specific statistical or probability context. It is a calculated value that informs one about the variability of a dataset. In contrast, variation can be observed in many contexts, such as biological differences among species, variations in climate patterns, or the variety in a product line.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023
Variance is usually expressed as a square of the unit of the data points to avoid negative values that arise from squaring the differences from the mean. On the other hand, variation is not necessarily quantified and can be qualitative, referring to any change or difference that is noticeable without necessarily measuring it.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023
While variance is a technical term with a precise definition in statistics, variation is used more generally in everyday language. You would discuss the variance among test scores in a scientific study, but talk about variation in musical styles when discussing different genres.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023
Variance implies a comparison against a standard – the mean – and is a measure of dispersion. Variation is a more general concept that refers to any deviation from the norm or standard, whether measured or observed, and does not necessarily relate to a mean or average.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Statistical measure of data dispersion
General differences or deviations
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

### Usage

Mostly in mathematics and statistics
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

### Measurement

Quantitative (e.g., variance of height)
Can be quantitative or qualitative
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

### Context

Describes variability from an average
Describes diversity or change
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

### Grammatical Form

Typically a noun
Can be a noun or verb (to vary)
Sara Rehman
Nov 03, 2023

## Variance and Variation Definitions

#### Variance

A disagreement or dispute.
The board members are at variance regarding the new policy.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variation

The occurrence of an organism in more than one distinct color or form.
Genetic variation within the species can lead to different colorations.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variance

A measure of how much values in a data set differ from the mean.
The variance in the data indicates high variability among the samples.
Huma Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variation

A different form or version of something.
She played a beautiful variation of the original piano piece.
Sara Rehman
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variance

A difference between what is expected and what is occurring.
There's a variance in the budget figures that must be addressed.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variation

A change or difference in condition, form, or character.
The variation in colors of the leaves is due to the change in seasons.
Huma Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variance

A legal authorization to do something different from the usual rules.
They obtained a variance to build an extension to their home.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variation

A modification in a melody or theme in music.
The composer introduced a variation that gave the piece a whole new feeling.
Sara Rehman
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variance

In accounting, the difference between actual and budgeted figures.
The finance department is analyzing the expense variance from last quarter.
Janet White
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variation

Fluctuation in data, phenomena, or behavior.
Daily temperature variation is more pronounced in desert regions.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

#### Variance

The state or quality of being variant or variable; variation
Considerable variance in temperature across the region.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 05, 2023

#### Variation

The act, fact, or process of varying.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 05, 2023

#### Variation

The extent or degree to which something varies
A variation of ten pounds in weight.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 05, 2023

## FAQs

#### Can variation occur in non-numerical data?

Yes, variation can refer to differences in non-numeric characteristics like color or shape.
Huma Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### What exactly is variance in statistics?

Variance measures how far each number in a set is from the mean.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Is variance used outside of statistics?

Variance is mostly a statistical term but can be used metaphorically in other contexts.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

#### What causes variation in a species?

Genetic differences and environmental factors can cause variation within a species.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

#### Are cultural differences a form of variation?

Yes, cultural differences are considered a form of social variation.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

#### Is variation always visible?

Variation can be visible or may require measurement to identify, depending on the context.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Do language variations count as variation?

Yes, differences in dialect or usage within a language are types of variation.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Does variation imply evolution?

Biological variation is one of the factors that can drive evolutionary processes.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### What does zero variance mean?

Zero variance means there is no variability and all values are identical.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### How is variance different from standard deviation?

Variance is the squared average of the deviations, while standard deviation is the square root of the variance.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Can variance be negative?

No, variance is always non-negative because it is derived from squared values.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### What is the importance of variance in research?

Variance helps researchers understand how much dispersion exists within their data.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 03, 2023

#### Is variance a measure of risk in finance?

Yes, variance is used to quantify the volatility of an investment's returns.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Can variance help predict outcomes?

Variance is used in predictive models to estimate the reliability of predictions.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 03, 2023

#### Is variation the same as diversity?

Variation is a component of diversity, which includes a range of differences.
Harlon Moss
Nov 03, 2023

#### Can variation be controlled?

Certain types of variation, like manufacturing variations, can be controlled to some extent.
Sara Rehman
Nov 03, 2023

#### How is variance calculated?

Variance is calculated by averaging the squared differences from the mean.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### How is variation beneficial to an ecosystem?

Variation can increase an ecosystem's resilience to environmental changes.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023

#### Can variance be used in quality control?

Yes, variance is a key metric in statistical quality control processes.
Janet White
Nov 03, 2023

#### Are variations in weather predictable?

Weather variations can be somewhat predicted using models and historical data.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 03, 2023