A SAS customer asked, "I computed the eigenvectors of a matrix in SAS and in another software package. I got different answers? How do I know which answer is correct?" I've been asked variations of this question dozens of times. The answer is usually "both answers are correct." The mathematical

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Last week I blogged about the broken-stick problem in probability, which reminded me that the broken-stick model is one of the many techniques that have been proposed for choosing the number of principal components to retain during a principal component analysis. Recall that for a principal component analysis (PCA) of

A SAS user needed to convert a program from MATLAB into the SAS/IML matrix language and asked whether there is a SAS/IML equivalent to the fliplr and flipud functions in MATLAB. These functions flip the columns or rows (respectively) of a matrix; "LR" stands for "left-right" and "UD" stands for

A classical problem in elementary probability asks for the expected lengths of line segments that result from randomly selecting k points along a segment of unit length. It is both fun and instructive to simulate such problems. This article uses simulation in the SAS/IML language to estimate solutions to the

For a time series { y1, y2, ..., yN }, the difference operator computes the difference between two observations. The kth-order difference is the series { yk+1 - y1, ..., yN - yN-k }. In SAS, the DIF function in the DATA step computes differences between observations. The DIF function

Skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of a univariate distribution. I have previously shown how to compute the skewness for data distributions in SAS. The previous article computes Pearson's definition of skewness, which is based on the standardized third central moment of the data. Moment-based statistics are sensitive to

An important problem in machine learning is the "classification problem." In this supervised learning problem, you build a statistical model that predicts a set of categorical outcomes (responses) based on a set of input features (explanatory variables). You do this by training the model on data for which the outcomes

I recently showed how to compute a bootstrap percentile confidence interval in SAS. The percentile interval is a simple "first-order" interval that is formed from quantiles of the bootstrap distribution. However, it has two limitations. First, it does not use the estimate for the original data; it is based only

I previously wrote about how to compute a bootstrap confidence interval in Base SAS. As a reminder, the bootstrap method consists of the following steps: Compute the statistic of interest for the original data Resample B times from the data to form B bootstrap samples. B is usually a large

A SAS customer asked how to use SAS to conduct a Z test for the equality of two proportions. He was directed to the SAS Usage Note "Testing the equality of two or more proportions from independent samples." The note says to "specify the CHISQ option in the TABLES statement

Students in introductory statistics courses often use summary statistics (such as sample size, mean, and standard deviation) to test hypotheses and to compute confidence intervals. Did you know that you can provide summary statistics (rather than raw data) to PROC TTEST in SAS and obtain hypothesis tests and confidence intervals?

Suppose you roll six identical six-sided dice. Chance are that you will see at least one repeated number. The probability that you will see six unique numbers is very small: only 6! / 6^6 ≈ 0.015. This example can be generalized. If you draw a random sample with replacement from

My presentation at SAS Global Forum 2017 was "More Than Matrices: SAS/IML Software Supports New Data Structures." The paper was published in the conference proceedings several months ago, but I recently recorded a short video that gives an overview of using the new data structures in SAS/IML 14.2: If your

One way to assess the precision of a statistic (a point estimate) is to compute the standard error, which is the standard deviation of the statistic's sampling distribution. A relatively large standard error indicates that the point estimate should be viewed with skepticism, either because the sample size is small

Most numerical optimization routines require that the user provides an initial guess for the solution. I have previously described a method for choosing an initial guess for an optimization, which works well for low-dimensional optimization problems. Recently a SAS programmer asked how to find an initial guess when there are

In a previous article, I showed two ways to define a log-likelihood function in SAS. This article shows two ways to compute maximum likelihood estimates (MLEs) in SAS: the nonlinear optimization subroutines in SAS/IML and the NLMIXED procedure in SAS/STAT. To illustrate these methods, I will use the same data

Maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) is a powerful statistical technique that uses optimization techniques to fit parametric models. The technique finds the parameters that are "most likely" to have produced the observed data. SAS provides many tools for nonlinear optimization, so often the hardest part of maximum likelihood is writing down

I have previously discussed how to define functions that safely evaluate their arguments and return a missing value if the argument is not in the domain of the function. The canonical example is the LOG function, which is defined only for positive arguments. For example, to evaluate the LOG function

If you toss a coin 28 times, you would not be surprised to see three heads in a row, such as ...THHHTH.... But what about eight heads in a row? Would a sequence such as THHHHHHHHTH... be a rare event? This question popped into my head last weekend as I

Last week I was asked a simple question: "How do I choose a seed for the random number functions in SAS?" The answer might surprise you: use any seed you like. Each seed of a well-designed random number generator is likely to give rise to a stream of random numbers,

By default, when you use the SERIES statement in PROC SGPLOT to create a line plot, the observations are connected (in order) by straight line segments. However, SAS 9.4m1 introduced the SMOOTHCONNECT option which, as the name implies, uses a smooth curve to connect the observations. In Sanjay Matange's blog,

According to Hyndman and Fan ("Sample Quantiles in Statistical Packages," TAS, 1996), there are nine definitions of sample quantiles that commonly appear in statistical software packages. Hyndman and Fan identify three definitions that are based on rounding and six methods that are based on linear interpolation. This blog post shows

In last week's article about the Flint water crisis, I computed the 90th percentile of a small data set. Although I didn't mention it, the value that I reported is different from the the 90th percentile that is reported in Significance magazine. That is not unusual. The data only had

The April 2017 issue of Significance magazine features a cover story by Robert Langkjaer-Bain about the Flint (Michigan) water crisis. For those who don't know, the Flint water crisis started in 2014 when the impoverished city began using the Flint River as a source of city water. The water was

Last week I showed a timeline of living US presidents. The number of living presidents is constant during the time interval between inaugurations and deaths of presidents. The data was taken from a Wikipedia table (shown below) that shows the number of years and days between events. This article shows

A SAS customer asked how to simulate data from a three-parameter lognormal distribution as specified in the PROC UNIVARIATE documentation. In particular, he wanted to incorporate a threshold parameter into the simulation. Simulating lognormal data is easy if you remember an important fact: if X is lognormally distributed, then Y=log(X)

Quick! What is the next term in the numerical sequence 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 4, ...? If you said '3', then you must be an American history expert, because that sequence represents the number of living US presidents beginning with Washington's inauguration on 30APR1789 and

If a financial analyst says it is "likely" that a company will be profitable next year, what probability would you ascribe to that statement? If an intelligence report claims that there is "little chance" of a terrorist attack against an embassy, should the ambassador interpret this as a one-in-a-hundred chance,

A frequently asked question on SAS discussion forums concerns randomly assigning units (often patients in a study) to various experimental groups so that each group has approximately the same number of units. This basic problem is easily solved in SAS by using PROC SURVEYSELECT or a DATA step program. A

Most SAS regression procedures support a CLASS statement which internally generates dummy variables for categorical variables. I have previously described what dummy variables are and how are they used. I have also written about how to create design matrices that contain dummy variables in SAS, and in particular how to