Need to log-transform a distribution? There's a SAS function for that!

At a conference last week, a presenter showed SAS statements that compute the logarithm of a probability density function (PDF). The log-PDF is a a common computation because it occurs when maximizing the log-likelihood function. The presenter computed the expression in SAS by using an expression that looked like y […]
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The Lambert W function in SAS

This article describes how you can evaluate the Lambert W function in SAS/IML software. The Lambert W function is defined implicitly: given a real value x, the function's value w = W(x) is the value of w that satisfies the equation w exp(w) = x. Thus W is the inverse […]
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Halley's method for finding roots

Edmond Halley (1656-1742) is best known for computing the orbit and predicting the return of the short-period comet that bears his name. However, like many scientists of his era, he was involved in a variety of mathematical and scientific activities. One of his mathematical contributions is a numerical method for […]
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All I really need to know about Newton's method I learned in primary school

I was eleven years old when I first saw Newton's method. No, I didn't go to a school for geniuses. I didn't even know it was Newton's method until decades later. However, in sixth grade I learned an iterative algorithm that taught me (almost) everything I need to know about […]
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Trap and cap: Avoid division-by-zero and domain errors when evaluating functions

Statistical programmers often need to evaluate complicated expressions that contain square roots, logarithms, and other functions whose domain is restricted. Similarly, you might need to evaluate a rational expression in which the denominator of the expression can be zero. In these cases, it is important to avoid evaluating a function […]
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The sensitivity of Newton's method to an initial guess

In my article about finding an initial guess for root-finding algorithms, I stated that Newton's root-finding method "might not converge or might converge to a root that is far away from the root that you wanted to find." A reader wanted more information about that statement. I have previously shown […]
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Finding roots: Automating the search for an initial guess

A SAS programmer asked an interesting question on a SAS Support Community. The programmer had a nonlinear function with 12 parameters. He also had file that contained 4,000 lines, where each line contained values for the 12 parameters. In other words, the file specified 4,000 different functions. The programmer wanted […]
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Compute the rank of a matrix in SAS

A common question from statistical programmers is how to compute the rank of a matrix in SAS. Recall that the rank of a matrix is defined as the number of linearly independent columns in the matrix. (Equivalently, the number of linearly independent rows.) This article describes how to compute the […]
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Create a custom PDF and CDF in SAS

In my previous post, I showed how to approximate a cumulative density function (CDF) by evaluating only the probability density function. The technique uses the trapezoidal rule of integration to approximate the CDF from the PDF. For common probability distributions, you can use the CDF function in Base SAS to […]
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An easy way to approximate a cumulative distribution function

Evaluating a cumulative distribution function (CDF) can be an expensive operation. Each time you evaluate the CDF for a continuous probability distribution, the software has to perform a numerical integration. (Recall that the CDF at a point x is the integral under the probability density function (PDF) where x is […]
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