Is money a discrete or continuous variable

Do you know what discrete and continuous data is?

In February 2020 I heard the term “discrete data” for the first time in my life. At that moment I thought, how on earth could data be discreet please? As soon as we share data, it is automatically no longer discreet, is it? To my great relief, our data science lecturer explained to me in the next breath what discrete data is and I was reassured.

Although I found it hard to believe at first, this course sparked an interest in data that I had never felt before. In the past, statistics and the like left me relatively cold. But thanks to this data science course, I know that a different representation of the same data can ensure that we interpret it completely differently if we don't pay attention to every detail of the representation. Data rendering is an art. And now that I knew it existed, I couldn't resist when I looked at a brochure

Claus O. Wilke: Data visualization - basics and practice. How to design meaningful diagrams and graphics

became aware. I ordered them to learn more about this art. When I placed my order, I knew that reading the book would not be easy for me. But somehow I had the feeling that my previous knowledge from my data science course would help me cope with the task.

Already on page eight I realized that I was perhaps a little too optimistic about the matter, because on this page I met my old acquaintances, the discrete data. I just couldn't remember what they were all about. For this reason I am now sitting on this post and let the discrete data become part of "you are great".

What is discrete data?

Discrete data is data that we can usually represent in whole numbers, such as:

  • Bags
  • Books
  • computer
  • People
  • money

People are discrete data because we cannot share them. An office can seat 7, 9 or 36 people, but not 23.5. But it looks completely different with money, doesn't it? I can divide a euro into cents, so why is money one of the discrete data? Well, we can divide euros into cents, but then it's over. A cent is the smallest unit that exists in this currency. We can only represent euros and cents in whole numbers, so they are discrete.

Discrete data are often represented in diagrams and the like using shapes and line types.

What is continuous data?

Continuous data are any numeric values. In contrast to discrete data, it can be "chopped up" to infinity. Examples of continuous data are:

For example, if I understand the continuous data thing correctly, weight is continuous data. A person might weigh 150 pounds, but if we had the appropriate scales, we might find that that person weighs not 50 pounds, but 104.738424635987106573651932 pounds. The number of decimal numbers is limited solely by our weighing technology and the size of the scale's display.

Continuous data are often represented in diagrams and the like by means of position, size, color and line width.