A SAS programmer recently asked why his SAS program and his colleague's R program display different estimates for the quantiles of a very small data set (less than 10 observations). I pointed the programmer to my article that compares the nine common definitions for sample quantiles. The article has a

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To get better at something, you need to practice. That maxim applies to sports, music, and programming. If you want to be a better programmer, you need to write many programs. This article provides an example of forming the intersection of items in a SAS/IML list. It then provides several

After my recent articles on simulating data by using copulas, many readers commented about the power of copulas. Yes, they are powerful, and the geometry of copulas is beautiful. However, it is important to be aware of the limitations of copulas. This article creates a bizarre example of bivariate data,

In a previous article, I discussed various ways to solve a least-square linear regression model. I discussed the SWEEP operator (used by many SAS regression routines), the LU-based methods (SOLVE and INV in SAS/IML), and the QR decomposition (CALL QR in SAS/IML). Each method computes the estimates for the regression

In computational statistics, there are often several ways to solve the same problem. For example, there are many ways to solve for the least-squares solution of a linear regression model. A SAS programmer recently mentioned that some open-source software uses the QR algorithm to solve least-squares regression problems and asked

In general, it is hard to simulate multivariate data that has a specified correlation structure. Copulas make that task easier for continuous distributions. A previous article presented the geometry behind a copula and explained copulas in an intuitive way. Although I strongly believe that statistical practitioners should be familiar with

Do you know what a copula is? It is a popular way to simulate multivariate correlated data. The literature for copulas is mathematically formidable, but this article provides an intuitive introduction to copulas by describing the geometry of the transformations that are involved in the simulation process. Although there are

A recent article about how to estimate a two-dimensional distribution function in SAS inspired me to think about a related computation: a 2-D cumulative sum. Suppose you have numbers in a matrix, X. A 2-D cumulative sum is a second matrix, C, such that the C[p,q] gives the sum of

This article shows how to estimate and visualize a two-dimensional cumulative distribution function (CDF) in SAS. SAS has built-in support for this computation. Although the bivariate CDF is not used as much as the univariate CDF, the bivariate version is still a useful tool in understanding the probable values of

This article uses simulation to demonstrate the fact that any continuous distribution can be transformed into the uniform distribution on (0,1). The function that performs this transformation is a familiar one: it is the cumulative distribution function (CDF). A continuous CDF is defined as an integral, so the transformation is

A SAS programmer noticed that his SAS output was not displaying multiple blanks in his strings. He had some strings with leading blanks, others with trailing blanks, and others with multiple blanks in the middle. Yet, every time he used SAS to print the strings to the HTML destination, something

A previous article showed how to simulate multivariate correlated data by using the Iman-Conover transformation (Iman and Conover, 1982). The transformation preserves the marginal distributions of the original data but permutes the values (columnwise) to induce a new correlation among the variables. When I first read about the Iman-Conover transformation,

Simulating univariate data is relatively easy. Simulating multivariate data is much harder. The main difficulty is to generate variables that have given univariate distributions but also are correlated with each other according to a specified correlation matrix. However, Iman and Conover (1982, "A distribution-free approach to inducing rank correlation among

Many nonparametric statistical methods use the ranks of observations to compute distribution-free statistics. In SAS, two procedures that use ranks are PROC NPAR1WAY and PROC CORR. Whereas the SPEARMAN option in PROC CORR (which computes rank correlation) uses only the "raw" tied ranks, PROC NPAR1WAY uses transformations of the ranks,

For many univariate statistics (mean, median, standard deviation, etc.), the order of the data is unimportant. If you sort univariate data, the mean and standard deviation do not change. However, you cannot sort an individual variable (independently) if you want to preserve its relationship with other variables. This statement is

It is well known that classical estimates of location and scale (for example, the mean and standard deviation) are influenced by outliers. In the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, researchers such as Tukey, Huber, Hampel, and Rousseeuw advocated analyzing data by using robust statistical estimates such as the median and the

When data contain outliers, medians estimate the center of the data better than means do. In general, robust estimates of location and sale are preferred over classical moment-based estimates when the data contain outliers or are from a heavy-tailed distribution. Thus, instead of using the mean and standard deviation of

I refer to the SAS documentation every day. Usually, I want information about SAS syntax and the statistical formulas and algorithms for various options and statements. Although I have bookmarked common documentation books and chapters, sometimes it is easier to perform an internet search to find information. I've discovered a

A SAS programmer noticed that there is not a built-in function in the SAS DATA step that computes the product for each row across a specified set of variables. There are built-in functions for various statistics such as the SUM, MAX, MIN, MEAN, and MEDIAN functions. But no DATA step

I previously wrote about how to understand standardized regression coefficients in PROC REG in SAS. You can obtain the standardized estimates by using the STDB option on the MODEL statement in PROC REG. Several readers have written to ask whether I could write a similar article about the STDCOEF option

You can standardize a numerical variable by subtracting a location parameter from each observation and then dividing by a scale parameter. Often, the parameters depend on the data that you are standardizing. For example, the most common way to standardize a variable is to subtract the sample mean and divide

Odani's truism is a mathematical result that says that if you want to compare the fractions a/b and c/d, it often is sufficient to compare the sums (a+d) and (b+c) rather than the products a*d and b*c. (All of the integers a, b, c, and d are positive.) If you

Quick! Which fraction is bigger, 40/83 or 27/56? It's not always easy to mentally compare two fractions to determine which is larger. For this example, you can easily see that both fractions are a little less than 1/2, but to compare the numbers you need to compare the products 40*56

A previous article discusses the definition of the Hoeffding D statistic and how to compute it in SAS. The letter D stands for "dependence." Unlike the Pearson correlation, which measures linear relationships, the Hoeffding D statistic tests whether two random variables are independent. Dependent variables have a Hoeffding D statistic

There are many statistics that measure whether two continuous random variables are independent or whether they are related to each other in some way. The most well-known statistic is Pearson's correlation, which is a parametric measure of the linear relationship between two variables. A related measure is Spearman's rank correlation,

SAS/IML programmers often create and call user-defined modules. Recall that a module is a user-defined subroutine or function. A function returns a value; a subroutine can change one or more of its input arguments. I have written a complete guide to understanding SAS/IML modules, which contains many tips for working

Ranking is a fundamental concept in statistics. Ranks of univariate data are used by statisticians to estimate statistics such as percentiles (quantiles) and empirical distributions. A more advanced use is to compute various rank-based measures of correlation or association between pairs of variables. For example, ranks are used to compute

The ranks of a set of data values are used in many nonparametric statistics and statistical tests. When you request a statistic or nonparametric test in SAS, the procedure will automatically compute the ranks that are needed. However, sometimes it is useful to know how to compute the ranks yourself.

It can be frustrating to receive an error message from statistical software. In the early days of the SAS statistical graphics (SG) procedures, an error message that I dreaded was ERROR: Attempting to overlay incompatible plot or chart types. This error message appears when you attempt to use PROC SGPLOT

Most introductory statistics courses introduce the bar chart as a way to visualize the frequency (counts) for a categorical variable. A vertical bar chart places the categories along the horizontal (X) axis and shows the counts (or percentages) on the vertical (Y) axis. The vertical bar chart is a precursor