describe: A Descriptive Statistics Utility
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describe: an exploratory data analysis tool


describe is a simple command line utility written in Haskell for calculating common descriptive statistics on numerical data.


To install describe, follow these steps:

  1. Download the haskell platform.

    • On a Mac:
      $ brew install haskell-platform

    • On Linux (Ubuntu):
      $ sudo apt-get install haskell-platform

  2. After successful installation, run the following commands to install the approporiate dependencies:

    $ cabal update
    $ cabal install cabal-install
    $ cabal install statistics

  3. Next, compile describe:

    $ ghc -O2 describe.hs

  4. Place describe in your path:

    `$ mv describe ~/bin/

  5. Test that describe is working:

    $ echo "1\n2\n3\n4" | ./describe


describe accepts numerical data in column form, i.e. delimited by newline characters.

As an example, consider the following data file with two columns of comma seperated values:


To analyze the first column of data:

$ cut -f1 -d"," | describe | column -t

This will print the following summary to the screen:

Length    :  5
Min       :  1.0e-10
Max       :  1000.0
Range     :  1000.0000
Q1        :  0.0000
Q2        :  2.2345
Q3        :  335.6379
IQR       :  335.6379
Trimean   :  85.0267
Midhinge  :  167.8190
Mean      :  201.1383
Mode      :  1.0e-10
Kurtosis  :  0.2499
Skewness  :  1.5000
Entropy   :  1.9219

Further information on how to work with rows and multiple columns can be found in this blog post: