The coefficient of variation is computed by deriving the ratio between the standard deviation and the mean and thus, is known as a measure of relative variation. The coefficient of variation differs from the standard deviation which is a measure of absolute variation however it is also similar to the standard deviation in how it assists in summarizing information regarding the dispersion and spread of a data set. Additionally, the coefficient of variation is dimensionless, in comparison to the standard deviation, and thus, it should be used in place of the standard deviation when comparing the variation between different data sets (1).
To calculate the coefficient of variation, use the following equation:
V = s/xbar x 100%
The meaning of each of the variables in the equation:
V = the coefficient of variation
s = standard deviation
xbar = mean of the sample