Statistical population

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In statistics, a population is a set of similar items or events which is of interest for some question or experiment. [1] A statistical population can be a group of existing objects (e.g. the set of all stars within the Milky Way galaxy) or a hypothetical and potentially infinite group of objects conceived as a generalization from experience (e.g. the set of all possible hands in a game of poker). [2] A common aim of statistical analysis is to produce information about some chosen population. [3]


In statistical inference, a subset of the population (a statistical sample) is chosen to represent the population in a statistical analysis. [4] The ratio of the size of this statistical sample to the size of the population is called a sampling fraction. It is then possible to estimate the population parameters using the appropriate sample statistics.

Sub population

A subset of a population that shares one or more additional properties is called a sub population. For example, if the population is all Egyptian people, a sub population is all Egyptian males; if the population is all pharmacies in the world, a sub population is all pharmacies in Egypt. By contrast, a sample is a subset of a population that is not chosen to share any additional property.

Descriptive statistics may yield different results for different sub populations. For instance, a particular medicine may have different effects on different sub populations, and these effects may be obscured or dismissed if such special sub populations are not identified and examined in isolation.

Similarly, one can often estimate parameters more accurately if one separates out sub populations: the distribution of heights among people is better modeled by considering men and women as separate sub populations, for instance.

Populations consisting of sub populations can be modeled by mixture models, which combine the distributions within sub populations into an overall population distribution. Even if sub populations are well-modeled by given simple models, the overall population may be poorly fit by a given simple model – poor fit may be evidence for the existence of sub populations. For example, given two equal sub populations, both normally distributed, if they have the same standard deviation but different means, the overall distribution will exhibit low kurtosis relative to a single normal distribution – the means of the sub populations fall on the shoulders of the overall distribution. If sufficiently separated, these form a bimodal distribution; otherwise, it simply has a wide peak. Further, it will exhibit [overdispersion] relative to a single normal distribution with the given variation. Alternatively, given two sub populations with the same mean but different standard deviations, the overall population will exhibit high kurtosis, with a sharper peak and heavier tails (and correspondingly shallower shoulders) than a single distribution.

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Descriptive statistics

A descriptive statistic is a summary statistic that quantitatively describes or summarizes features from a collection of information, while descriptive statistics is the process of using and analysing those statistics. Descriptive statistics is distinguished from inferential statistics by its aim to summarize a sample, rather than use the data to learn about the population that the sample of data is thought to represent. This generally means that descriptive statistics, unlike inferential statistics, is not developed on the basis of probability theory, and are frequently non-parametric statistics. Even when a data analysis draws its main conclusions using inferential statistics, descriptive statistics are generally also presented. For example, in papers reporting on human subjects, typically a table is included giving the overall sample size, sample sizes in important subgroups, and demographic or clinical characteristics such as the average age, the proportion of subjects of each sex, the proportion of subjects with related co-morbidities, etc.

In probability theory and statistics, kurtosis is a measure of the "tailedness" of the probability distribution of a real-valued random variable. Like skewness, kurtosis describes the shape of a probability distribution and there are different ways of quantifying it for a theoretical distribution and corresponding ways of estimating it from a sample from a population. Different measures of kurtosis may have different interpretations.

Statistics Study of the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data

Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statistical population or a statistical model to be studied. Populations can be diverse groups of people or objects such as "all people living in a country" or "every atom composing a crystal". Statistics deals with every aspect of data, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments.

A statistic (singular) or sample statistic is any quantity computed from values in a sample that is used for a statistical purpose. Statistical purposes include estimating a population parameter, describing a sample, or evaluating a hypothesis. The average of sample values is a statistic. The term statistic is used both for the function and for the value of the function on a given sample. When a statistic is being used for a specific purpose, it may be referred to by a name indicating its purpose.

Skewness measure of the asymmetry of random variables

In probability theory and statistics, skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of the probability distribution of a real-valued random variable about its mean. The skewness value can be positive, zero, negative, or undefined.

In statistics, the likelihood-ratio test assesses the goodness of fit of two competing statistical models based on the ratio of their likelihoods, specifically one found by maximization over the entire parameter space and another found after imposing some constraint. If the constraint is supported by the observed data, the two likelihoods should not differ by more than sampling error. Thus the likelihood-ratio test tests whether this ratio is significantly different from one, or equivalently whether its natural logarithm is significantly different from zero.

In statistics, the mean squared error (MSE) or mean squared deviation (MSD) of an estimator measures the average of the squares of the errors—that is, the average squared difference between the estimated values and the actual value. MSE is a risk function, corresponding to the expected value of the squared error loss. The fact that MSE is almost always strictly positive is because of randomness or because the estimator does not account for information that could produce a more accurate estimate.

An F-test is any statistical test in which the test statistic has an F-distribution under the null hypothesis. It is most often used when comparing statistical models that have been fitted to a data set, in order to identify the model that best fits the population from which the data were sampled. Exact "F-tests" mainly arise when the models have been fitted to the data using least squares. The name was coined by George W. Snedecor, in honour of Sir Ronald A. Fisher. Fisher initially developed the statistic as the variance ratio in the 1920s.


A Z-test is any statistical test for which the distribution of the test statistic under the null hypothesis can be approximated by a normal distribution. Z-test tests the mean of a distribution. For each significance level in the confidence interval, the Z-test has a single critical value which makes it more convenient than the Student's t-test whose critical values are defined by the sample size.

Cross-validation (statistics)

Cross-validation, sometimes called rotation estimation or out-of-sample testing, is any of various similar model validation techniques for assessing how the results of a statistical analysis will generalize to an independent data set. It is mainly used in settings where the goal is prediction, and one wants to estimate how accurately a predictive model will perform in practice. In a prediction problem, a model is usually given a dataset of known data on which training is run, and a dataset of unknown data against which the model is tested. The goal of cross-validation is to test the model's ability to predict new data that was not used in estimating it, in order to flag problems like overfitting or selection bias and to give an insight on how the model will generalize to an independent dataset.

Errors and residuals

In statistics and optimization, errors and residuals are two closely related and easily confused measures of the deviation of an observed value of an element of a statistical sample from its "theoretical value". The error of an observed value is the deviation of the observed value from the (unobservable) true value of a quantity of interest, and the residual of an observed value is the difference between the observed value and the estimated value of the quantity of interest. The distinction is most important in regression analysis, where the concepts are sometimes called the regression errors and regression residuals and where they lead to the concept of studentized residuals.

In probability and statistics, a mixture distribution is the probability distribution of a random variable that is derived from a collection of other random variables as follows: first, a random variable is selected by chance from the collection according to given probabilities of selection, and then the value of the selected random variable is realized. The underlying random variables may be random real numbers, or they may be random vectors, in which case the mixture distribution is a multivariate distribution.

Regression analysis

In statistical modeling, regression analysis is a set of statistical processes for estimating the relationships between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables. The most common form of regression analysis is linear regression, in which a researcher finds the line that most closely fits the data according to a specific mathematical criterion. For example, the method of ordinary least squares computes the unique line that minimizes the sum of squared differences between the true data and that line. For specific mathematical reasons, this allows the researcher to estimate the conditional expectation of the dependent variable when the independent variables take on a given set of values. Less common forms of regression use slightly different procedures to estimate alternative location parameters or estimate the conditional expectation across a broader collection of non-linear models.

Multimodal distribution

In statistics, a Multimodaldistribution is a probability distribution with two different modes, which may also be referred to as a bimodal distribution. These appear as distinct peaks in the probability density function, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Categorical, continuous, and discrete data can all form bimodal distributions.

The following is a glossary of terms used in the mathematical sciences statistics and probability.

In statistics, the mid-range or mid-extreme of a set of statistical data values is the arithmetic mean of the maximum and minimum values in a data set, defined as:

Robust statistics are statistics with good performance for data drawn from a wide range of probability distributions, especially for distributions that are not normal. Robust statistical methods have been developed for many common problems, such as estimating location, scale, and regression parameters. One motivation is to produce statistical methods that are not unduly affected by outliers. Another motivation is to provide methods with good performance when there are small departures from parametric distribution. For example, robust methods work well for mixtures of two normal distributions with different standard-deviations; under this model, non-robust methods like a t-test work poorly.

In statistics, overdispersion is the presence of greater variability in a data set than would be expected based on a given statistical model.

In statistics, normality tests are used to determine if a data set is well-modeled by a normal distribution and to compute how likely it is for a random variable underlying the data set to be normally distributed.

Shape of a probability distribution

In statistics, the concept of the shape of a probability distribution arises in questions of finding an appropriate distribution to use to model the statistical properties of a population, given a sample from that population. The shape of a distribution may be considered either descriptively, using terms such as "J-shaped", or numerically, using quantitative measures such as skewness and kurtosis.


  1. "Glossary of statistical terms: Population". . Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  2. Weisstein, Eric W. "Statistical population". MathWorld .
  3. Yates, Daniel S.; Moore, David S; Starnes, Daren S. (2003). The Practice of Statistics (2nd ed.). New York: Freeman. ISBN   978-0-7167-4773-4. Archived from the original on 2005-02-09.
  4. "Glossary of statistical terms: Sample". . Retrieved 22 February 2016.