0
$\begingroup$

This might seem silly but I am unable to find a clear answer: I need to define whether two variables are either discrete or continuous: "total work" and "sleep". The description of these variables are as follows: total work - minutes worked per week sleep - minutes sleep at night, per week

The data given for these variables are all integers (no decimals) which inclines me to think both variables are discrete. Additionally to me it seems you can only sleep or work a finite amount of time in this case, given the constraint of "per week" as well as "per night"but maybe that is irrelevant as to whether they are discrete/continuous? Any help?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Answers & comments so far suggest it might be futile, or at least perplexing, to try to determine whether the variables are in some sense truly discrete or continuous. As you say, you need to define them as discrete or continuous: edit your question to explain to what end. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Mar 17 '18 at 15:03
1
$\begingroup$

If your data values are all integers, this means that the "total work" and "sleep" are both being measured in whole minutes (i.e., part minutes are not being recorded). In view of this, your data is discrete. This is an example where a notionally continuous variable is being "discretised" by measurement limitations.

| cite | improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are data are always discrete to some level of precision. The underlying construct being measured is clearly continuous. $\endgroup$ – dbwilson Mar 17 '18 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that is correct. Since our measuring instruments always have finite precision, we can go down only to a certain non-zero unit of measurement. If this is sufficiently fine then we might use continuity as a good approximation, but if the measurements are quite crude, we might prefer a discrete model. $\endgroup$ – Ben Mar 17 '18 at 22:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.