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Definition

dependent variable

A dependent variable is a variable whose value depends upon independent variable s. The dependent variable is what is being measured in an experiment or evaluated in a mathematical equation. The dependent variable is sometimes called "the outcome variable."

In a simple mathematical equation, for example:

a = b/c

the dependent variable, a , is determined by the values of b and c .

Here's a simple example:

A city planner needs to compare the number of drivers who go through red lights between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. with the number of drivers who do so between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. In this scenario, the time span is the independent variable and the difference in the number of drivers going through red lights during those time spans is the dependent variable.

This was last updated in March 2008

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