When applying variance (Variance[10]) or standard deviation (StandardDeviation[10]) to a constant value in Mathematica, Should the return be zero ?

What I get from StandardDeviation[10] is the error saying that standardDeviation::rectt: Rectangular array expected at position 1 in StandardDeviation[10].

How do I fix it ?

  • $\begingroup$ For one thing, Variance expects a list, so you'd need to do Variance[{10}] instead. But for another thing, Variance returns the sample variance, with $n-1$ in the denominator, so the variance of a sample of length $n=1$ is not defined at all. $\endgroup$
    – user484
    Mar 4, 2014 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ @RahulNarain I guess the way to fix it is to replicate 10 so that I will have a list of {10,10}. Then, applying Variance[{10,10}] returns me 0. $\endgroup$
    – newbie
    Mar 4, 2014 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


As mentioned, a list of one single item has no sample variance but it does have a population variance. The population variance has to be defined, though :

PopulationVariance[list_] := Mean[(list - Mean[list])^2];
PopulationVariance[{10}] (* 0 *)

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