**Sample Standard Deviation Formula (Table of Contents)**

## Sample Standard Deviation Formula

In statistics, the standard deviation is basically a measure to find the dispersion of the data set values from the mean value of the data set. It measures the distance of that data point and the mean. So higher the standard deviation, higher will be the dispersion and data points will tend to far from the mean. Similarly, lower standard deviation means that data points will be closer to the mean. It is very useful in comparing data sets which may have the same mean value but a different range.

Usually, calculate the standard deviation of population data but sometimes population data is so huge that it is not possible to find the standard deviation for that. In that case, sample standard deviation is calculated and that will become the representative of population standard deviation. So we will assume that the sample is the correct representation of the population and will focus on sample standard deviation in this article.

Suppose you have a data set X with data points {X1, X2……..Xn}.

The formula for population standard deviation is given by:

**Population Standard Deviation = √ [Σ (X**

_{i}– X_{m})^{2}/ n ]In case you are not given the entire population and only have a sample (Let’s say X is the sample data set of the population), then the formula for sample standard deviation is given by:

**Sample Standard Deviation = √ [Σ (X**

_{i}– X_{m})^{2}/ (n – 1)]Where:

**X**i_{i}–^{th}value of data set**X**Mean value of data set_{m}–**n –**Total number of data points

The formula may look confusing at first, but it is really to work on. Following are the steps which can be followed to calculate sample standard deviation:

- Find the number of points in the data set i.e. n
- Then the next step is to find the mean value of the sample. It is basically the average of all the values.
- After that, for each data point, find the difference of that from the mean and then square it.
- Take sum all the values in the above step and divided that by n-1.
- The last step is to take the square root of the number calculated above.

There is another way to calculate population and standard deviation simply by using STDEV.P () function for population standard deviation and STDEV.S () function for sample standard deviation in excel.

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**Examples of Sample Standard Deviation Formula (With Excel Template)**

Let’s take an example to understand the calculation of the Sample Standard Deviation in a better manner.

#### Sample Standard Deviation Formula – Example #1

**Let’s say we have two sample data sets A & B and each contains 20 random data points and have the same mean. Calculate the Sample Standard Deviation for the data set A & B. **

**Solution: **

Mean is calculated as:

- Mean of Data Set A =
**51.25** - Mean of Data Set B =
**51.25**

Now, we need to calculate the difference between the data points and the mean value.

Similarly, calculate for all the data set of A.

Similarly, calculate it for data set B also.

Calculate the square of the difference for both the data sets A and B.

Sample Standard Deviation is calculated using the formula given below

**Sample Standard Deviation = √ [Σ (X _{i} – X_{m})^{2} / (n – 1)]**

So if you see here, although both the data sets have the same mean value, B has a more standard deviation that A, which means that data points of B are more dispersed than A.

#### Sample Standard Deviation Formula – Example #2

**Let say you are a very risk-averse investor and you looking to invest money in the stock market. Since your risk appetite is low, you want to invest in safe stocks which have a lower standard deviation. Your financial advisor has suggested you 4 stocks from which you can choose from. You want to select 2 stocks among those 4 and you will decide that on the basis of lower standard deviation.**

You have got information on their historical returns for the last 15 years.

**Solution:**

Sample Standard Deviation is calculated using the excel formula

Based on the information and sample standard deviation, you will choose stock Y and Z to invest since they have the lowest standard deviation.

### Explanation

We discuss the meaning of standard deviation from a statistical standpoint but it also plays a vital role if we talk about a financial point of view. In finance, it is basically the measure of risk an investment carries and how risky that investment is. Based on the risk an investment has, investors can then calculate the minimum return they require to compensate that risk. As in the above example, since Y and Z have a lesser standard deviation, it means that there is less variability in the return of these stocks, so they are less riskier. One point while using standard deviation tool we need to keep in mind that it is highly affected by the extreme values or outliers. These outliers can skew the standard deviation value.

### Relevance and Uses of Sample Standard Deviation Formula

Standard deviation helps the investors and analyst to find the risk and reward ratio or Sharpe ratio for an investment. Basically, anyone can earn a risk-free rate of return by investing in Treasury and risk-free securities. But return over and above this is the excess return and to achieve that, what is the level of risk one needs to take is a measure of Sharpe ratio:

**Sharpe Ratio = (Return on Investment – Risk Free Rate) / Standard Deviation**

So as to higher the Sharpe ratio, better is the investment.

As we said that standard deviation is a measure of risk, but lower standard deviation value is not always preferred. If an investor has a higher risk appetite and wants to invest more aggressively, he will be willing to take more risk and prefer a relatively higher standard deviation than a risk-averse investor. So it all depends on what level of risk an investor is willing to take.

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