Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

Have you ever wondered: what’s the difference between independent and dependent variables? Indeed, this question comes up every now and then because it is a typical recurring topic. It is very crucial in mathematics and other sciences. Apart from these two areas, both expressions have an application in real life. If you are a mathematician, we expect that you already know the answer to this question.

However, there are many people who still try to figure out what is the difference between independent and dependent variables. If you are reading this article while you are in this category, just keep in mind that you are not alone in this case. The good news is that after reading this article, you will find the answer to the question mind-boggling.

Given that a good number of people face this challenge, we did an extensive research into the subject. Here is a well-detailed guide that will help you get the answer that you seek. Well, just before going any further, it is critical that you know what a variable is. The fact is, there is rarely any field where the term is not applied, because it is something we face in everyday life. In mathematics, for instance, it is a number that is not fixed. For instance, if X is a variable, it depicts that the magnitude of X keeps changing from time to time depending on the prevailing circumstances.

For example, find X in the equations below:    

i. 2X – 9 = 19             ii. 5 – 3X = 20

i. We will work out X in the first:

2X – 9 = 19

     2X = 19 + 9

       X = 28/2 = 14.

ii. Working out the second:

5 – 3X = 20

     -3X = 20 – 5

      -X = 15/3 {Multiple both sides by – to cancel out the minus sign (-)}

       X = -5

Notice that in the algebras, the sizes of X are not the same. While the value of X in the first (i) equation is 14, it is -5 in the second (ii) equation. Well, this simply entails that X is a variable, because its size is not constant.

Now, we can say that we have started this article very well, because we have given a contextual explanation. So, let’s get down to business.

Definition of Independent Variable

At this point, it is crystal clear that we have started in earnest this article. However, in keeping with our tradition, before dissecting the difference between independent and dependent variables, it is critical that we break them down in autonomous terms. This will help you comprehend more quickly. With that being said, we will start to define the first phrase.

An independent variable is a quantity whose size or variation doesn’t depend on another, but which causes other variables to vary. In mathematics, it is the number or item that is given. Essentially, in real life, a good example is a worker’s income. This is simply because it is capable of influencing other things, such as consumption, rent, fees, and standard of living in general. This simply means that the school you attend, the kind of food you eat, the kind of house that you live in, the clothes you wear and a host of other things depend on your income.

Every time you get a raise, it will alter a lot of things. In an experimental situation, it is a controlled condition that is capable of influencing all the other things that are studied. To be precise, you can also be called an independent factor, which indicates that it has many applications even though the idea behind it remains largely the same.

It is okay if ask: What is the difference between dependent and independent variables? But the thing is, we will still give an in-depth explanation of the latter before delving into the disparity. So, we will continue. By and large, it just means that known or given item that remains unaltered, and it is capable of altering other items or conditions. And yes, this can be anything that is given, which is capable of controlling other things that are unknown.

It is okay if you ask: What is the difference between dependent and independent variables? But the thing is, we will still give an in-depth explanation of the latter before delving into the disparity. So, we will continue. Overall, it just means that known or given item remains unaltered, and it is capable of altering other items or conditions. And yes, this can be anything that is given, that is capable of controlling other things that are unknown.

In practical mathematics, it is a number that alters the outcome of the entire equation if it is altered. For example, y = 2x – 6. In the simple algebraic equation, x is the independent factor as its size doesn’t depend on y. x could be 4, 6 or any number. On the other hand, the value of y pivots on that of x. That’s the simple logic behind it.  

At this point, we have given enough explanation. But just before we identify the difference between independent variable and dependent variable, we will break down what the latter means. This is important, because having a good grasp of it will also help you to understand the contrast.

Definition of Dependent Variable

Are you still unsure what the difference between dependent and independent variable is? If yes, you are not alone. Nevertheless, we will walk you through the basic definition of the latter before explaining the flagrant disparity.

A dependent variable is a factor that depends on others. In this case, the initial quantity is not given, as its outcome depends somehow on the rest that is taken into account. In real life, they exist in the form of market prices of goods, transportation fares, house rents and many others. All these values keep changing from time to time, as their outcomes depends on a number of factors that are taken into consideration.

A good example is the price of goods on the market. The fact is, the price of a finished product on the local market depends on production inputs, transportation cost, logistics and many other factors. In this case, the buyer will notice that the price keeps changing from time to time because a number of conditionals influence it or come into play.

Again, just before we explain the difference between dependent and independent variables, we will give more examples to make the former abundantly clear. In our former equation, y = 2x – 6, we can now say that y is the dependent factor, as its size pivots on the figure assigned to x.

If X is 5, y becomes 2 (5) – 6 = 4. And when x is 6, y becomes 2 (6) – 6 = 6.

Obviously, the size of y rests on the number assigned to x.

At this point, we will proceed to explain the difference between independent and dependent variable in a table. After going through the table, you will understand the disparity between the two.

Independent vs Dependent Variable Comparison Table

As stated earlier, the table below gives more explanation about the distinction.

ParameterIndependent Dependent
Meaning An item that doesn’t change A quantity that relies on others
Frequency of change This quantity rarely changes This keeps changing from time to time depending on a number of other things considered
Examples Income, and Time Price of groceries, and transportation fares
Predictability Very certain Very uncertain
Influence It can be altered by the researcher This cannot be easily influenced, as the size is determined by the outcome of the other(s)

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Independent vs Dependent Variable

We firmly believe that the table above illustrates the disparity between the two phrases. This article satisfactorily answers the question: What is the difference between independent and dependent variable? So far, the distinction has been thoroughly discussed in this article. With that being said, you can say that the two need each other, regardless of where and how they are applied.

Obviously, they are applied in Mathematics, Economics, Business, Sciences and a host of other fields. But then, it doesn’t really matter where you find them, as they have the same principle guiding them wherever they are found. In other words, since this one is given, it is capable of influencing the other that is not given or to be worked out (experimented). The unknown will then be found or solved. In short, that’s the general principle.

So, what is the difference between independent and dependent variable? Well, at this stage, this topic has been satisfactorily exhausted. When you hear someone ask the question above, you should go on to give him/her a lecture, as we have done in this article. Without mince words, we strongly believe that in all areas where you come across the terms, you should be able to identify the distinction, as we have given you the general precepts that guide them.