How can you specify weights for a statistical analysis? Hmmm, that's a "weighty" question! Many people on discussion forums ask "What is a weight variable?" and "How do you choose a weight for each observation?" This article gives a brief overview of weight variables in statistics and includes examples of

## Tag: **Statistical Thinking**

Pearson's correlation measures the linear association between two variables. Because the correlation is bounded between [-1, 1], the sampling distribution for highly correlated variables is highly skewed. Even for bivariate normal data, the skewness makes it challenging to estimate confidence intervals for the correlation, to run one-sample hypothesis tests ("Is

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

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

On discussion forums, I often see questions that ask how to Winsorize variables in SAS. For example, here are some typical questions from the SAS Support Community: I want an efficient way of replacing (upper) extreme values with (95th) percentile. I have a data set with around 600 variables and

In the classic textbook by Johnson and Wichern (Applied Multivariate Statistical Analysis, Third Edition, 1992, p. 164), it says: All measures of goodness-of-fit suffer the same serious drawback. When the sample size is small, only the most aberrant behaviors will be identified as lack of fit. On the other hand,

Somewhere in my past I encountered a panel of histograms for small random samples of normal data. I can't remember the source, but it might have been from John Tukey or William Cleveland. The point of the panel was to emphasize that (because of sampling variation) a small random sample

Loess regression is a nonparametric technique that uses local weighted regression to fit a smooth curve through points in a scatter plot. Loess curves are can reveal trends and cycles in data that might be difficult to model with a parametric curve. Loess regression is one of several algorithms in

The article uses the SAS DATA step and Base SAS procedures to estimate the coverage probability of the confidence interval for the mean of normally distributed data. This discussion is based on Section 5.2 (p. 74–77) of Simulating Data with SAS. What is a confidence interval? Recall that a confidence

Many univariate descriptive statistics are intuitive. However, weighted statistic are less intuitive. A weight variable changes the computation of a statistic by giving more weight to some observations than to others. This article shows how to compute and visualize weighted percentiles, also known as a weighted quantiles, as computed by

'Tis a gift to be simple. -- Shaker hymn In June 2015 I published a short article for Significance, a magazine that features statistical and data-related articles that are of general interest to a wide a range of scientists. The title of my article is "In Praise of Simple Graphics."

I saw an interesting mathematical result in Wired magazine. The original article was about mathematical research into prime numbers, but the article included the following tantalizing fact: If Alice tosses a [fair]coin until she sees a head followed by a tail, and Bob tosses a coin until he sees two

Today is March 14th, which is annually celebrated as Pi Day. Today's date, written as 3/14/16, represents the best five-digit approximation of pi. On Pi Day, many people blog about how to approximate pi. This article uses a Monte Carlo simulation to estimate pi, in spite of the fact that

A SAS customer asked: Why isn't the chi-square distribution supported in PROC UNIVARIATE? That is an excellent question. I remember asking a similar question when I first started learning SAS. In addition to the chi-square distribution, I wondered why the UNIVARIATE procedure does not support the F distribution. These are

How much does this big pumpkin weigh? One of the cafeterias at SAS invited patrons to post their guesses on an internal social network at SAS. There was no prize for the correct guess; it was just a fun Halloween-week activity. I recognized this as an opportunity to apply the

When modeling and simulating data, it is important to be able to articulate the real-life statistical process that generates the data. Suppose a friend says to you, "I want to simulate two random correlated variables, X and Y." Usually this means that he wants data generated from a multivariate distribution,

In a previous post I described how to simulate random samples from an urn that contains colored balls. The previous article described the case where the balls can be either of two colors. In that csae, all the distributions are univariate. In this article I examine the case where the

If not for probability theory, urns would appear only in funeral homes and anthologies of British poetry. But in probability and statistics, urns are ever present and contain colored balls. The removal and inspection of colored balls from an urn is a classic way to demonstrate probability, sampling, variation, and

Last week I discussed ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models and showed how to illustrate the assumptions about the conditional distribution of the response variable. For a single continuous explanatory variable, the illustration is a scatter plot with a regression line and several normal probability distributions along the line. The

A friend who teaches courses about statistical regression asked me how to create a graph in SAS that illustrates an important concept: the conditional distribution of the response variable. The basic idea is to draw a scatter plot with a regression line, then overlay several probability distributions along the line,

Perhaps you saw the headlines earlier this week about the fact that it has been nine years since the last major hurricane (category 3, 4, or 5) hit the US coast. According to a post on the GeoSpace blog, which is published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), researchers ran

The Monty Hall Problem is one of the most famous problems in elementary probability. It is famous because the correct solution is counter-intuitive and because it caused an uproar when it appeared in the "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade magazine in 1990. Discussing the problem has been known to create

I've written about how to generate a sample from a multivariate normal (MVN) distribution in SAS by using the RANDNORMAL function in SAS/IML software. Last week a SAS/IML programmer showed me a program that simulated MVN data and computed the resulting covariance matrix for each simulated sample. The purpose of

I sometimes wonder whether some functions and options in SAS software ever get used. Last week I was reviewing new features that were added to SAS/IML 13.1. One of the new functions is the CV function, which computes the sample coefficient of variation for data. Maybe it is just me,

In my article about how to create a quantile plot, I chose not to discuss a theoretical issue that occasionally occurs. The issue is that for discrete data (which includes rounded values), it might be impossible to use quantile values to split the data into k groups where each group

What is kurtosis? What does negative or positive kurtosis mean, and why should you care? How do you compute kurtosis in SAS software? It is not clear from the definition of kurtosis what (if anything) kurtosis tells us about the shape of a distribution, or why kurtosis is relevant to

The tail of a probability distribution is an important notion in probability and statistics, but did you know that there is not a rigorous definition for the "tail"? The term is primarily used intuitively to mean the part of a distribution that is far from the distribution's peak or center.

Wisdom has built her house; She has hewn out her seven pillars. – Proverbs 9:1 At the 2014 Joint Statistical Meetings in Boston, Stephen Stigler gave the ASA President's Invited Address. In forty short minutes, Stigler laid out his response to the age-old question "What is statistics?" His answer was

As the International Year of Statistics comes to a close, I've been reflecting on the role statistics plays in our modern society. Of course, statistics provides estimates, forecasts, and the like, but to me the great contribution of statistics is that it enables us to deal with uncertainty in a

Should you ever guess on the SAT® or PSAT standardized tests? My son is getting ready to take the preliminary SAT (PSAT), which is a practice test for the SAT. A teacher gave his class this advice regarding guessing: For a multiple-choice questions, if you can eliminate one or two