Tag: Statistical Thinking

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Discrimination, accuracy, and stability in binary classifiers

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

Programming Tips
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The geometry of multivariate versus univariate outliers

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

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Feature generation and correlations among features in machine learning

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

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Standardized regression coefficients

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

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Find the distances between observations and a target value

Suppose you want to find observations in multivariate data that are closest to a numerical target value. For example, for the students in the Sashelp.Class data set, you might want to find the students whose (Age, Height, Weight) values are closest to the triplet (13, 62, 100). The way to

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Data unavailable? Use the "eyeball distribution" to simulate

Last week I got the following message: Dear Rick: How can I create a normal distribution within a specified range (min and max)? I need to simulate a normal distribution that fits within a specified range. I realize that a normal distribution is by definition infinite... Are there any alternatives,

Analytics
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Should you use principal component regression?

This article describes the advantages and disadvantages of principal component regression (PCR). This article also presents alternative techniques to PCR. In a previous article, I showed how to compute a principal component regression in SAS. Recall that principal component regression is a technique for handling near collinearities among the regression

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How to understand weight variables in statistical analyses

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

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Fisher's transformation of the correlation coefficient

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

Analytics
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A quantile definition for skewness

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

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Winsorization: The good, the bad, and the ugly

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

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Goodness-of-fit tests: A cautionary tale for large and small samples

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,

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Sampling variation in small random samples

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

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What is loess regression?

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

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Coverage probability of confidence intervals: A simulation approach

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

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Weighted percentiles

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

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In praise of simple graphics

'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."

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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

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Monte Carlo estimates of pi and an important statistical lesson

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

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Why doesn't PROC UNIVARIATE support certain common distributions?

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

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Guessing games, ensemble averages, and the wisdom of the crowd

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

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Models and simulation for 2x2 contingency tables

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,