The moments of a continuous probability distribution are often used to describe the shape of the probability density function (PDF). The first four moments (if they exist) are well known because they correspond to familiar descriptive statistics: The first raw moment is the mean of a distribution. For a random

## Tag: **Statistical Thinking**

Many modern statistical techniques incorporate randomness: simulation, bootstrapping, random forests, and so forth. To use the technique, you need to specify a seed value, which determines pseudorandom numbers that are used in the algorithm. Consequently, the seed value also determines the results of the algorithm. In theory, if you know

Here's a fun problem to think about: Suppose that you have two different valid ways to test a statistical hypothesis. For a given sample, will both tests reject or fail to reject the hypothesis? Or might one test reject it whereas the other does not? The answer is that two

Recall that the binomial distribution is the distribution of the number of successes in a set of independent Bernoulli trials, each having the same probability of success. Most introductory statistics textbooks discuss the approximation of the binomial distribution by the normal distribution. The graph to the right shows that the

A reader asked whether it is possible to find a bootstrap sample that has some desirable properties. I am using the term "bootstrap sample" to refer to the result of randomly resampling with replacement from a data set. Specifically, he wanted to find a bootstrap sample that has a specific

People love rankings. You've probably seen articles about the best places to live, the best colleges to attend, the best pizza to order, and so on. Each of these is an example of a ranking that is based on multiple characteristics. For example, a list of the best places to

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

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 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

Testing people for coronavirus is a public health measure that reduces the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a US infectious disease expert, recently mentioned the concept of "pool testing." The verb "to pool" means "to combine from different sources." In a USA Today article, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator

The first time I saw a formula for the pooled variance, I was quite confused. It looked like Frankenstein's monster, assembled from bits and pieces of other quantities and brought to life by a madman. However, the pooled variance does not have to be a confusing monstrosity. The verb "to

Every day we face risks. If we drive to work, we risk a fatal auto accident. If we eat red meat and fatty foods, we risk a heart attack. If we go out in public during a pandemic, we risk contracting a disease. A logical response to risk is to

During an outbreak of a disease, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the media shows daily graphs that convey the spread of the disease. The following two graphs appear frequently: New cases for each day (or week). This information is usually shown as a histogram or needle plot. The graph

Books about statistics and machine learning often discuss the tradeoff between bias and variance for an estimator. These discussions are often motivated by a sophisticated predictive model such as a regression or a decision tree. But the basic idea can be seen in much simpler situations. This article presents a

The ROC curve is a graphical method that summarizes how well a binary classifier can discriminate between two populations, often called the "negative" population (individuals who do not have a disease or characteristic) and the "positive" population (individuals who do have it). As shown in a previous article, there is

The purpose of this article is to show how to use SAS to create a graph that illustrates a basic idea in a binary classification analysis, such as discriminant analysis and logistic regression. The graph, shown at right, shows two populations. Subjects in the "negative" population do not have some

In a previous article, I showed how to perform collinearity diagnostics in SAS by using the COLLIN option in the MODEL statement in PROC REG. For models that contain an intercept term, I noted that there has been considerable debate about whether the data vectors should be mean-centered prior to

In my book Simulating Data with SAS, I show how to use a graphical tool, called the moment-ratio diagram, to characterize and compare continuous probability distributions based on their skewness and kurtosis (Wicklin, 2013, Chapter 16). The idea behind the moment-ratio diagram is that skewness and kurtosis are essential for

Longitudinal data are used in many health-related studies in which individuals are measured at multiple points in time to monitor changes in a response variable, such as weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure. There are many excellent articles and books that describe the advantages of a mixed model for analyzing longitudinal

In a linear regression model, the predicted values are on the same scale as the response variable. You can plot the observed and predicted responses to visualize how well the model agrees with the data, However, for generalized linear models, there is a potential source of confusion. Recall that a

In a previous article, I mentioned that the VLINE statement in PROC SGPLOT is an easy way to graph the mean response at a set of discrete time points. I mentioned that you can choose three options for the length of the "error bars": the standard deviation of the data,

Is 4 an extreme value for the standard normal distribution? In high school, students learn the famous 68-95-99.7 rule, which is a way to remember that 99.7 percent of random observation from a normal distribution are within three standard deviations from the mean. For the standard normal distribution, the probability

At SAS Global Forum 2019, Daymond Ling presented an interesting discussion of binary classifiers in the financial industry. The discussion is motivated by a practical question: If you deploy a predictive model, how can you assess whether the model is no longer working well and needs to be replaced? Daymond

I think every course in exploratory data analysis should begin by studying Anscombe's quartet. Anscombe's quartet is a set of four data sets (N=11) that have nearly identical descriptive statistics but different graphical properties. They are a great reminder of why you should graph your data. You can read about

An important concept in multivariate statistical analysis is the Mahalanobis distance. The Mahalanobis distance provides a way to measure how far away an observation is from the center of a sample while accounting for correlations in the data. The Mahalanobis distance is a good way to detect outliers in multivariate

Statisticians often emphasize the dangers of extrapolating from a univariate regression model. A common exercise in introductory statistics is to ask students to compute a model of population growth and predict the population far in the future. The students learn that extrapolating from a model can result in a nonsensical

Feature generation (also known as feature creation) is the process of creating new features to use for training machine learning models. This article focuses on regression models. The new features (which statisticians call variables) are typically nonlinear transformations of existing variables or combinations of two or more existing variables. This

A frequent topic on SAS discussion forums is how to check the assumptions of an ordinary least squares linear regression model. Some posts indicate misconceptions about the assumptions of linear regression. In particular, I see incorrect statements such as the following: Help! A histogram of my variables shows that they

A SAS programmer recently asked how to interpret the "standardized regression coefficients" as computed by the STB option on the MODEL statement in PROC REG and other SAS regression procedures. The SAS documentation for the STB option states, "a standardized regression coefficient is computed by dividing a parameter estimate by

In a previous article, I showed how to find the intersection (if it exists) between two line segments in the plane. There are some fun problems in probability theory that involve intersections of line segments. One is "What is the probability that two randomly chosen chords of a circle intersect?"