DEFINITION of 'Standard Deviation'
1. A measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean. The more spread apart the data, the higher the deviation. Standard deviation is calculated as the square root of variance.
2. In finance, standard deviation is applied to the annual rate of return of an investment to measure the investment's volatility. Standard deviation is also known as historical volatility and is used by investors as a gauge for the amount of expected volatility.
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BREAKING DOWN 'Standard Deviation'
Standard deviation is a statistical measurement that sheds light on historical volatility. For example, a volatile stock will have a high standard deviation while the deviation of a stable blue chip stock will be lower. A large dispersion tells us how much the return on the fund is deviating from the expected normal returns.
Want to know more about risk measurement? Please read Standard Deviation & Value At Risk and The Uses And Limits Of Volatility

Variance
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The simple mathematical average of a set of two or more numbers. ... 
Covariance
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