DEFINITION of 'Frequency Distribution'
A representation, either in a graphical or tabular format, which displays the number of observations within a given interval. The intervals must be mutually exclusive and exhaustive. Frequency distributions are usually used within a statistical context.
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BREAKING DOWN 'Frequency Distribution'
The size of the intervals used in a frequency distribution will depend on the data being analyzed and the goals of the analyst. However, the most important factor is that the intervals used must be nonoverlapping and contain all of the possible observations.
For example, a frequency distribution in a tabular format for weekly stock returns may look like:
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