Difference Between Frequency and Relative Frequency

Difference Between Frequency and Relative Frequency

Science has evolved so much, and a lot of things have changed as a result. One thing that has remained the same is the fact that nothing is constant. Like the good book will put it; “there is nothing permanent under the sun”, everything is under probability. Probability expresses the belief that an experiment will turn out in a number of ways. To better describe how this works, we’re going to review the difference between relative frequency and frequency.

This will throw more light on the different number of results that can be gotten from virtually any event at all. But before we go into the difference between frequency and relative frequency, let’s take some time to learn what they really mean.

Definition of Frequency

It is most likely that you have an idea of what this term means because it is a typical day to day English word. When you talk about how often an event occurs, like how often you have to go grocery shopping per week, or how often you have to study in order to pass your exams, you are actually talking about frequency.

Frequency simply means the number of times an event occurs within a given experiment. Here is a very good example to explain this. You have a coin, and you’re meant to flip it 10 times while taking notes. The task is to find out how many times a head shows up. After flipping the coin, you got 4 heads. That number, 4, is your frequency.

Definition of Relative Frequency

On the other hand, if you have to compare the result of an event to the total number of tries, then you’re dealing with relative frequencies. By definition, relative frequency is the fraction of how many times a result occurs over the total number of tries/entries.

For instance, let’s say you’re charged with the task of grouping 20 kids in your neighborhood according to 4 different age brackets. If at the end of the task, and 7 of the kids fall in one group, then your relative frequencies for this particular case would be 7/20.

From the definitions alone, you can answer the question what is the difference between frequency and relative frequency? However, there is more to it as we’ll show in the table below.

Frequency vs Relative Frequency Comparison Table

Basis of ComparisonFrequencyRelative Frequency
DefinitionSimply means the number of times an event occurs within a given experimentIs the fraction of how many times a result occurs over the total number of tries/entries
CalculationsNo calculations involvedCalculation is involved in most cases
Number formSimple whole numbers in most casesLikely to involve fractions in most cases if not all

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Frequency vs Relative Frequency

What’s the difference between frequency and relative frequency? The answer to this question, as shown above, is straight forward. This information will help you by the time you get to the next level which requires formulas and actual calculations.