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Say I have 100 numbers that are averaged:

number of values = 100
total sum of values = 2000
mean = 2000 / 100 => 20

If I want to add a value and find out the new average:

total sum of values = 2000 + 100
mean = 2100 / 101 => 20.79

If I want to subtract a value and find out the new average:

total sum of values = 2100 - 100
mean = 2000 / 100 => 20

It seems to work, but is the above correct?

Is this the proper way to add/subtract values from a average without having to re-sum all the 100 numbers first?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

$s=\frac{a_1+...+a_n}{n}$.

If you want the average of $a_1,...,a_n$ and $a_{n+1}$, then $s'=\frac{a_1+...+a_n+a_{n+1}}{n+1}=\frac{ns+a_{n+1}}{n+1} = \frac{(n+1)s+a_{n+1}}{n+1} - \frac{s}{n+1} = s + \frac{a_{n+1}-s}{n+1}$

If you want the average of $a_1,...,a_{n-1}$ then $s''=\frac{a_1+...+a_{n-1}}{n-1}=\frac{ns-a_n}{n-1}$.

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1  
And $ns$ is the old sum, as you can derive from the first equation. –  Ross Millikan Feb 16 '11 at 13:21
    
I'm tempted to downvote as ns is not explained in the answer –  Celeritas Aug 22 at 20:32

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