How to Calculate Expected Value in Excel


A probability distribution tells us the probability that a random variable takes on certain values.

For example, the following probability distribution tells us the probability that a certain soccer team scores a certain number of goals in a given game:

To find the expected value of a probability distribution, we can use the following formula:

μ = Σx * P(x)

where:

  • x: Data value
  • P(x): Probability of value

For example, the expected number of goals for the soccer team would be calculated as:

μ = 0*0.18  +  1*0.34  +  2*0.35  +  3*0.11  +  4*0.02  =  1.45 goals.

The following example provides a step-by-step example of how to calculate the expected value of a probability distribution in Excel.

Step 1: Enter the Data

First, let’s enter the data values and corresponding probabilities for a given probability distribution:

Step 2: Multiply Values and Probabilities

Next, we’ll multiply the first number in the ‘Values’ column with the first number in the ‘Probability’ column:

We’ll then copy and paste this formula down to every cell in column C:

Step 3: Calculate Expected Value

Lastly, we can calculate the expected value of the probability distribution by using SUM(C2:C10) to sum all of the values in column C:

Expected value in Excel

The expected value for this probability distribution is 3.3.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to calculate other descriptive statistics in Excel:

How to Find Mean, Median & Mode in Excel
How to Calculate the Interquartile Range in Excel
How to Calculate the Coefficient of Variation in Excel

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