In math, a variation quantitatively describes a change in a particular variable -- a price, for example. An absolute variation is simply the difference between the start (base) value and the new (final) one. Percent variation is a ratio of the absolute variation to the base value. It is commonly used in everyday life, for example, to describe price changes on the stock market.

Find out the initial (base) value and the final value for a variable. For example, the price of a stock was $12.37 at the beginning of the day and was $13.12 at the end of the day.

Subtract the basic value from the final value to calculate the difference. The positive difference indicates the variable increase while the negative value represents a decline. In our example, the difference is $13.12 - $12.37 = $0.75.

Divide the difference by the base value, and then multiply the result by 100 to calculate percent variation. In our example, ($0.75/$12.37) x 100 = 6.06 percent.