Descriptive statistics form one of the two essential components in statistical science (the other component is inferential statistics). It is used to characterize data at hand and for reporting. Descriptive statistics may be further classified as location measures and dispersion measures. They may be used to make comparisons across different datasets.
The mean, mode and median are descriptive statistics that can be used to summarize the location of a dataset. For quantitative variables whose distribution is symmetric, the mean is often preferable due to its ease of mathematical manipulation.
Variance/standard deviation, inter-quartile range and range are descriptive statistics used to summarize the dispersion of a dataset. As in Example 1, for quantitative variables whose distribution is symmetric, variance or standard deviation is often preferable.