How to Calculate the Coefficient of Variation in Python

Spread the love

The Coefficient of Variation (CV) is a statistical measure that helps to understand the dispersion of data points in a dataset relative to the mean. It is often used to compare the degree of variation from one data series to the other, even if the means are drastically different from each other. In this article, we’ll cover how to calculate the Coefficient of Variation in Python.

Understanding the Coefficient of Variation

The Coefficient of Variation (CV), also known as relative standard deviation (RSD), is a standardized measure of dispersion of a probability distribution or frequency distribution. It is defined as the ratio of the standard deviation to the mean and is usually expressed in percentage.

Mathematically, the formula for CV is:

CV = (σ / μ) * 100


  • σ is the standard deviation of the population.
  • μ is the mean of the population.

The CV essentially represents the percentage of the mean that the standard deviation constitutes, giving a sense of how representative the mean is of the data.

How to Calculate the Coefficient of Variation in Python

Let’s consider an example where we have a Pandas DataFrame with some randomly generated data and we want to calculate the CV.

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
from scipy.stats import variation 

# Create a DataFrame with random data
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'value': np.random.randint(1, 100, 200)

# Calculate Coefficient of Variation using scipy.stats.variation
cv = variation(df['value'])

print("Coefficient of Variation : ", cv)

In this example, we use scipy.stats.variation function which computes the coefficient of variation, the ratio of the biased standard deviation to the mean.

While the CV is a simple and effective way to understand and compare variability, it’s important to use it wisely. Since it is a relative measure, it can only be used to compare variability between similar quantities or units.

Applying Coefficient of Variation to Real Data

Let’s take a look at a more real-world example using a dataset with real data. For this, we’ll use the famous Iris dataset, which is widely used as a beginner’s dataset for machine learning and data visualization.

import seaborn as sns
from scipy.stats import variation 

# Load the Iris dataset
iris = sns.load_dataset('iris')

# Calculate Coefficient of Variation for each feature
for feature in ['sepal_length', 'sepal_width', 'petal_length', 'petal_width']:
    cv = variation(iris[feature])
    print(f'Coefficient of Variation for {feature}: {cv:.3f}')

In this example, we calculate and print the CV for each feature in the Iris dataset.


In this article, we’ve covered the concept of the Coefficient of Variation, and how to calculate it in Python. The CV is a useful statistical measure when you want to compare the variability of data series with different units or significantly different means.

Remember, as with all statistical measures, it’s crucial to consider the CV in the context of the data you’re analyzing. It’s also a relative measure and not an absolute one. Therefore, it is only applicable when comparing the variability of similar quantities.

Knowing how to calculate and interpret the CV is a valuable skill in data analysis, and Python’s libraries make it straightforward to perform these calculations and apply them to real-world data.

Leave a Reply