Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

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Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Mar 6, 2023 15:43 IST

Independent variable in mathematics does not depend on another variable and it explains the cause, whereas the dependent variable depends on an independent variable, and it is used to inform the conclusion of the experiment. This article briefly discusses Independent and Dependent Variable.


Variables in statistics are symbols used to represent the values in an expression. Variables are classified into an independent and dependent variable. As the name suggests, an independent variable can take any value. In contrast, the dependent variable is a consequence of an independent variable, i.e., two variables may be related to cause and effect. If there is a change in the independent variable, then the dependent variable will be affected.
This article will briefly discuss the difference between dependent and independent variables.
So, without further delay, let’s dive deep to learn more about the independent and dependent variables.

Table of Content

Independent Variable vs. Dependent Variable

Parameter Independent Variable Dependent Variable
Definition Variable that is not dependent on other variables are known as Independent Variable.It can be manipulated. Variable that depends on another variable (mostly independent variable) are known as Dependent Variable.It is observed or measured.
Name Exposure/Control/Explanatory/Manipulated Outcome/Controlled/Explained/Response
Explains It explains the cause and effects of change in the variable. The independent variable explains it. 
Use It is used to determine the conclusion of the dependent variable. It is used to inform the conclusion of the experiment.
Result Cause Effect
Notation Generally, it is represented by x. Generally, it is represented by y.

What is an Independent Variable

As the name suggests, independent variables are those variables that do not depend on others.

  • It is controlled to test the effect on the dependent variable.
    • Researchers have control over their selection and manipulation.
  • Generally, the independent variables are graphed on X-axis.
  • Alternate Names: Exposure/Control/Explanatory/Manipulated
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What is a Dependent Variable

As the name suggests, dependent variables are those variables whose values depend on other variables (independent variables).

  • It is the variable that is being tested and measured.
    • It is what the researcher/experimenter observes
  • The value of the dependent variable changes with the change in the value of an independent variable.
  • Generally, the dependent variables are graphed on Y-axis.
  • Alternate Names: Outcome/Controlled/Explained/Response
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  1. Plant Height = (k1) * (Humidity) + (k2) * (Temperature) + (k3) * (Type of Fertilizer used) + (k4) * (Type of Soil)

here, Plant Height is dependent variable, whereas Humidity, Temperature, Type of Fertilizer, and Type of Soil are independent variable.

2. Temperature = (c1) * (latitude) + (c2) * (altitude) + (c3) * (distance from sea) + (c4) * (air-mass circulation)

Here, temperature is a dependent variable that depends on latitude, altitude, distance from sea, and air mass circulation that are independent variable.

Key Similarities and Differences

  • Independent variables can take any value (it is controlled during the experiment). In contrast, the dependent variable’s value depends on the independent variable’s value.
    • The value of independent variables depends on external factors.
  • Dependent variables can not easily be manipulated, whereas researchers can easily manipulate the value of independent variables.
  •  The value of independent variables is obtained from the research or experiment by researchers, whereas the value of the dependent variable is obtained from a predefined formula.
  • On a graph:
    • The horizontal axis (x-axis) represents the variable.
    • The vertical axis (y-axis) represents the independent variable.
  • Both Independent and Dependent variables do not have a constant value.
    • The variation in the value may be direct or inverse.
  • Both variables can take multiple variables.
    • In the case of 3D or 4D,
      • f(x) = y, where x = [x1, x2, x3], and y = [y1, y2, y3]


Independent and Dependent variable is one of the most basic but most used concepts in mathematics and statistics. It is used in Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Probability. The application of these variables is not only limited to mathematics and probability; it is used in Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology.
Hope this article helps you to learn more about dependent and independent variables.

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About the Author
Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content

Vikram has a Postgraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, with a keen interest in Data Science and Machine Learning. He has experience of 2+ years in content creation in Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, and Mac... Read Full Bio