Intuitively, the skewness of a unimodal distribution indicates whether a distribution is symmetric or not. If the right tail has more mass than the left tail, the distribution is "right skewed." If the left tail has more mass, the distribution is "left skewed." Thus, estimating skewness requires some estimates about

# Author

The expected value of a random variable is essentially a weighted mean over all possible values. You can compute it by summing (or integrating) a probability-weighted quantity over all possible values of the random variable. The expected value is a measure of the "center" of a probability distribution. You can

When there are two equivalent ways to do something, I advocate choosing the one that is simpler and more efficient. Sometimes, I encounter a SAS program that simulates random numbers in a way that is neither simple nor efficient. This article demonstrates two improvements that you can make to your

The skewness of a distribution indicates whether a distribution is symmetric or not. The Wikipedia article about skewness discusses two common definitions for the sample skewness, including the definition used by SAS. In the middle of the article, you will discover the following sentence: In general, the [estimators] are both

A fundamental principle of data analysis is that a statistic is an estimate of a parameter for the population. A statistic is calculated from a random sample. This leads to uncertainty in the estimate: a different random sample would have produced a different statistic. To quantify the uncertainty, SAS procedures

The triangulation theorem for polygons says that every simple polygon can be triangulated. In fact, if the polygon has V vertices, you can decompose it into V-2 non-overlapping triangles. In this article, a "polygon" always means a simple polygon. Also, a "random point" means one that is drawn at random

How can you efficiently generate N random uniform points in a triangular region of the plane? There is a very cool algorithm (which I call the reflection method) that makes the process easy. I no longer remember where I saw this algorithm, but it is different from the "weighted average"

A previous article discusses the confidence band for the mean predicted value in a regression model. The article shows a "graded confidence band plot," which I saw in Claus O. Wilke's online book, Fundamentals of Data Visualization (Section 16.3). It communicates uncertainty in the predictions. A graded band plot is

You've probably seen many graphs that are similar to the one at the right. This plot shows a regression line overlaid on a scatter plot of some data. Given a value for the independent variable (x), the regression line gives the best prediction for the mean of the response variable

A previous article shows how to use a recursive formula to compute exact probabilities for the Poisson-binomial distribution. The recursive formula is an O(N2) computation, where N is the number of parameters for the Poisson-binomial (PB) distribution. If you have a distribution that has hundreds (or even thousands) of parameters,

Finite-precision computations can be tricky. You might know, mathematically, that a certain result must be non-negative or must be within a certain interval. However, when you actually compute that result on a computer that uses finite-precision, you might observe that the value is slightly negative or slightly outside of the

When working with a probability distribution, it is useful to know how to compute four essential quantities: a random sample, the density function, the cumulative distribution function (CDF), and quantiles. I recently discussed the Poisson-binomial distribution and showed how to generate a random sample. This article shows how to compute

The Poisson-binomial distribution is a generalization of the binomial distribution. For the binomial distribution, you carry out N independent and identical Bernoulli trials. Each trial has a probability, p, of success. The total number of successes, which can be between 0 and N, is a binomial random variable. The distribution

Many textbooks and research papers present formulas that involve recurrence relations. Familiar examples include: The factorial function: Set Fact(0)=1 and define Fact(n) = n*Fact(n-1) for n > 0. The Fibonacci numbers: Set Fib(0)=1 and Fib(1)=1 and define Fib(n) = Fib(n-1) + Fib(n-2) for n > 1. The binomial coefficients (combinations

A previous article discussed how to solve regression problems in which the parameters are constrained to be a specified constant (such as B1 = 1) or are restricted to obey a linear equation such as B4 = –2*B2. In SAS, you can use the RESTRICT statement in PROC REG to

A data analyst recently asked a question about restricted least square regression in SAS. Recall that a restricted regression puts linear constraints on the coefficients in the model. Examples include forcing a coefficient to be 1 or forcing two coefficients to equal each other. Each of these problems can be

My 2020 SAS Global Forum paper was about how to write custom parallel programs by using the iml action in SAS Viya 3.5. My conference presentation was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but I recently recorded a 15-minute video that summarizes the main ideas in the paper. One of

I previously wrote about the RAS algorithm, which is a simple algorithm that performs matrix balancing. Matrix balancing refers to adjusting the cells of a frequency table to match known values of the row and column sums. Ideally, the balanced matrix will reflect the structural relationships in the original matrix.

Matrix balancing is an interesting problem that has a long history. Matrix balancing refers to adjusting the cells of a frequency table to match known values of the row and column sums. One of the early algorithms for matrix balancing is known as the RAS algorithm, but it is also

The HighLow plot often enables you to create many custom plots without resorting to annotation. Although it is designed to create a candlestick chart for stocks, it is incredibly versatile. Recently, a SAS programmer wanted to create a patient-profile graph that looked like a stacked bar chart but had repeated

On discussion forums, many SAS programmers ask about the best way to generate dummy variables for categorical variables. Well-meaning responders offer all sorts of advice, including writing your own DATA step program, sometimes mixed with macro programming. This article shows that the simplest and easiest way to generate dummy variables

In the paper "Tips and Techniques for Using the Random-Number Generators in SAS" (Sarle and Wicklin, 2018), I discussed an example that uses the new STREAMREWIND subroutine in Base SAS 9.4M5. As its name implies, the STREAMREWIND subroutine rewinds a random number stream, essentially resetting the stream to the beginning.

I got a lot of feedback about my recent article about how to find roots of nonlinear functions by using the SOLVE function in PROC FCMP. A colleague asked how the FCMP procedure stores the functions. Specifically, why the OUTLIB= option on the PROC FCMP statement use a three-level syntax:

Finding the root (or zero) of a nonlinear function is an important computational task. In the case of a one-variable function, you can use the SOLVE function in PROC FCMP to find roots of nonlinear functions in the DATA step. This article shows how to use the SOLVE function to

I recently showed how to use simulation to estimate the power of a statistical hypothesis test. The example (a two-sample t test for the difference of means) is a simple SAS/IML module that is very fast. Fast is good because often you want to perform a sequence of simulations over

A previous article about standardizing data in groups shows how to simulate data from two groups. One sample (with n1=20 observations) is simulated from an N(15, 5) distribution whereas a second (with n2=30 observations) is simulated from an N(16, 5) distribution. The sample means of the two groups are close

A common operation in statistical data analysis is to center and scale a numerical variable. This operation is conceptually easy: you subtract the mean of the variable and divide by the variable's standard deviation. Recently, I wanted to perform a slight variation of the usual standardization: Perform a different standardization

Have you ever seen the "brain teaser" for children that shows a 4 x 4 grid and asks "how many squares of any size are in this grid?" To solve this problem, the reader must recognize that there are sixteen 1 x 1 squares, nine 2 x 2 squares, four 3 x 3 squares, and one 4 x 4 square.

The iml action was introduced in Viya 3.5. As shown in a previous article, the iml action supports ways to implement the map-reduce paradigm, which is a way to distribute a computation by using multiple threads. The map-reduce paradigm is ideal for “embarrassingly parallel” computations, which are composed of many

When you write a program that simulates data from a statistical model, you should always check that the simulation code is correct. One way to do this is to generate a large simulated sample, estimate the parameters in the simulated data, and make sure that the estimates are close to