Math

Google Maps Illustrates How Averages Can Fail

Call me easily amused, but I thought it was funny that if you search Google Maps for Florida, the green arrow points at the Gulf of Mexico (and the one for Michigan points at Lake Michigan).

Even better, if you search for Maryland, the arrow points at Virginia.


Apparently, when Google Maps has to point at an area rather than a point, what it does is to calculate the average (mean) latitude and longitude for the area, and aims the arrow at that point.

Of course, this fails when a region has an odd shape (like Florida or Maryland) and the “average” point falls outside of the region. Michigan is also a good example of how the mean can fall between the upper and lower peninsulas.