Which Type of Data Are Frequency Polygons Used For?


Heather Bennett

Which Type of Data Are Frequency Polygons Used For?

Frequency polygons are a graphical representation used to display the distribution of data. They are particularly useful when dealing with continuous data, which is data that can take any value within a certain range. Frequency polygons help us visualize how the data is distributed and identify patterns or trends.

The Basics of Frequency Polygons

A frequency polygon is created by plotting points on a graph using the midpoints of each class interval on the x-axis and the frequency (or relative frequency) on the y-axis. The points are then connected with straight lines to form a polygon.

Let’s say we have a dataset representing the heights of students in a class. We can group this data into intervals, such as 150-160 cm, 160-170 cm, and so on. The midpoint of each interval represents the x-coordinate for our graph, while the frequency represents the y-coordinate.

Continuous Data

Frequency polygons are particularly suited for continuous data because they allow us to visualize how values are distributed across a range. Continuous data can take any value within a given range, such as height, weight, or time.

For example, let’s consider a dataset representing the time taken by runners to complete a race. The times might range from 10 seconds to 60 seconds, and we could group them into intervals like 10-20 seconds, 20-30 seconds, and so on. By plotting these intervals on our frequency polygon, we can see which time intervals have higher or lower frequencies and identify any patterns.

Analyze Distributions

Frequency polygons allow us to analyze distributions more effectively than just looking at raw numbers or tables. By visually examining the shape of the polygon, we can gain insights into the data. Some common shapes include:

  • Symmetric: In a symmetric distribution, the two sides of the polygon are approximately mirror images of each other. This indicates that the data is evenly distributed around the mean.
  • Skewed: A skewed distribution has one tail longer than the other. If the longer tail is on the right, it is called a positively skewed distribution, and if it is on the left, it is called a negatively skewed distribution.
  • Bimodal: A bimodal distribution has two distinct peaks, indicating that there may be two separate groups or populations within the data.

Comparing Distributions

Frequency polygons also allow us to compare distributions. By plotting multiple frequency polygons on the same graph, we can easily see how different datasets or subgroups compare to each other.

For example, let’s say we have data on the heights of male and female students. By creating frequency polygons for each group and comparing them side by side, we can quickly identify any differences in height distributions between males and females.


Frequency polygons are a powerful tool for visualizing and analyzing continuous data distributions. They allow us to understand patterns, identify outliers or anomalies, compare distributions, and gain insights into our data that might not be immediately apparent from raw numbers alone. By incorporating frequency polygons into our analysis toolkit, we can make more informed decisions based on a deeper understanding of our data.

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