Skip to content

Multidimensional Scaling

Multidimensional Scaling:

Multidimensional scaling (MDS) is an approach to multivariate analysis aimed at producing a spatial or geometrical representation of complex data.

MDS helps to explain the observed distance matrix or dissimilarity matrix for a set of N objects in terms of a much smaller number (m<<N) of underlying dimensions. It represents N objects in a Euclidean space with a small number of dimensions, e.g on a plane (m=2). The major criteria for such allocation is that pairwise distances of objects in this space are close to the corresponding elements of the initial distance matrix.

MDS is very popular in psychological and marketing research, where human perception is of interest. Suppose, for example, the elements of the distance matrix are subjective scores for distinction between taste of pairs of N=10 brands of coffee, averaged over several “tasters”. Then, MDS can help to represent the 10 brands of coffee as points on a plane in such a way that brands that are perceived as being similar are plotted close together, and brands that are perceived as being different are plotted farther apart.

Browse Other Glossary Entries

Test Yourself

Planning on taking an introductory statistics course, but not sure if you need to start at the beginning? Review the course description for each of our introductory statistics courses and estimate which best matches your level, then take the self test for that course. If you get all or almost all the questions correct, move on and take the next test.

Data Analytics

Considering becoming adata scientist, customer analyst or our data science certificate program?

Analytics Quiz

Advanced Statistics Quiz

Statistics Quiz


Looking at statistics for graduate programs or to enhance your foundational knowledge?

Statistics 1 Quiz

Regression Quiz

Regression Quiz


Entering the biostatistics field? Test your skill here.

Biostatistics Quiz

Advanced Statistics Quiz

Statistics 2 Quiz

Stay Informed

Our Blog

Read up on our latest blogs


Learn about our certificate programs


Find the right course for you

Contact Us

We'd love to answer your questions

Our mentors and academic advisors are standing by to help guide you towards the courses or program that makes the most sense for you and your goals.

300 W Main St STE 301, Charlottesville, VA 22903

(434) 973-7673

By submitting your information, you agree to receive email communications from All information submitted is subject to our privacy policy. You may opt out of receiving communications at any time.