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A Refresher on Probability and


IENG 455
Feng Yang
West Virginia University

Relationship between Probability

and Statistics

Population Sample


Basic Concepts
Population a collection of all units of interest. (people,
products, )
Sample a subset of a population that is actually observed.
Variable a measurable property or attribute associated
with each unit in the population.
Parameters numeric characteristics of the population
defined for each variable of interest.
An Example:
Consider a lot of 100 items in manufacturing
Population: 100 items Sample: a subset of 10 items
Variable X: defectiveness of products
1 If the item is defective
0 Otherwise
Parameters: Defective rate of the lot
(number of defectives/number of lots)

Probability & Statistics

Nature of Probability
Deduction: given the population and its parameters we draw
inferences about a sample. General A Particular
e.g. Given that the population contains 5 defectives, we
compute the probability that a random sample of 10 items
drawn from this lot contains one defective.
Nature of Statistics
Induction: given a sample we draw inferences about the
population A Particular General

e.g. Take a random sample of 10 items, estimate the unknown

number of defectives in the lot from the observed number
of defectives in the sample.

Probability Basics
Random experiment a specific procedure
whose outcome is uncertain.
Random variable X a numeric quantity whose
value is determined by the outcome of a random
Sample space S the collection of all possible
outcomes of a random experiment.
Event E any collection of outcomes contained in
the sample space.
Probability of an event the relative likelihood
that it will occur when you do the experiment

Example: Product Quality

Random experiment: randomly draw 10 items
from the population and test them.
Random variable Xi ( i = 1, 2, , 10 )
1 If the item is defective
0 Otherwise
Sample space S = { 0, 1 }
Event E: e.g., the sample of 10 items contains 1
Probability of an event: the probability that a
random sample of 10 items contains 1 defective.
P{ X i 1}
i 1 6

Random Variables
Quantifies the random outcome
Assigns a numerical value for every outcome of the experiment
Probabilistic behavior described by distribution function
A RV can only take values in its sample space ( X S ).
Examples of sample spaces:
1. Toss a coin: S = { H, T }
2. Roll a single die: S = { 1, 2, , 6 }
3. Count the number of customers entering a store during one
day: S = { 1, 2, 3, }
4. Observe the lifetime of a car battery: S = [0,)
6. Measure the outdoor temperature: S = [23, 104]
(Fahrenheit )
Discrete vs. Continuous RV.
Discrete can take on only certain separated values
Continuous can take on any real value in some range 7

Discrete Distributions
Let X be a discrete RV with S = { x1, x2, x3, }
Probability mass function (pmf)
p(xi) = P(X = xi) for i = 1, 2, 3, ...
Toss a die: S ={1,2,,6 }
P( X 1) 1 / 6
P( X 2) 1 / 6 1/6

P ( X 6) 1 / 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 x

The statement X = xi is an event whose probability of

happening is measured by the pmf
Can express pmf as numerical list, table, graph, or formula
Since X must be equal to some xi, and since the xis are all
distinct, p ( xi ) 1
all i 8

Discrete Distributions (contd)
Cumulative distribution function (cdf)
F ( x ) P{ X x}
all i such
p ( xi )
that x i x

Toss a die:
Properties of discrete c.d.f.
0 F(x) 1 for all x
As x , F(x) 0; As x +, F(x) 1
F(x) is nondecreasing in x
F(x) is a step function continuous from the right with jumps
at the xis of height equal to the pmf at that xi
Some discrete distributions
Bernoulli, Binomial, Poisson Distribution

Continuous Distributions
Now let X be a continuous RV with sample space
S = [ xL, xU ] (Possibly limited to a range bounded on left or right or both.)
f(x) Fun facts about p.d.f
Observed Xs are denser in regions where f (x)
is high
The height of a density, f(x), is not the
0 x probability of anything it can even be > 1

Probability density function (pdf) is a function f(x) with the

following three properties:
f(x) 0 for all real values x
The total area under f(x) is 1: f ( x) dx 1
For any fixed a and b with a b, the probability that X will
fall between a and b is the area under f(x) between a and b :
P( a x b) f ( x) dx


Continuous Distributions (contd.)
Cumulative distribution function (cdf) - probability that the
RV will be a fixed value x:
F (x) P( X x)
f ( t ) dt

f(t) F(x)


x t x
Properties of continuous cdf is
0 F(x) 1 for all x
As x , F(x) 0; As x +, F(x) 1
F(x) is nondecreasing in x
F(x) is a continuous function with slope equal to the
pdf: f (x) = F(x)

Some Continuous Distributions

Uniform 1
a xb
f ( x) b a
pdf 0 elsewhere

Exponential exp( x / ) x0
f ( x)
pdf 0 elsewhere

1 ( x )2
Normal f ( x) exp[ ] - x
2 2 2 2

Others: Lognormal, Gamma, Triangle, Weibull


Parameters of a Distribution
Expected value / Mean (measure of center)
Discrete RV: E( X ) xi p ( xi )
all i

Continuous RV: E( X ) x f ( x) dx

Variance (measure of dispersion)

Discrete RV: 2 Var( X ) E( X ) 2 ( xi ) 2 p( xi )

all i

Continuous RV: Var ( X ) E( X ) ( x ) f ( x) dx
2 2 2

Standard deviation (SD)

SD( X ) Var ( X )

Parameters of a Distribution (contd)

Percentiles of a continuous RV

F ( x) P( X x) f ( t ) dt

F ( ) P( X )
f(t) F(x)

t = F -1() x

For 0 1, the 100th percentile is defined as

F -1 ( )

What is Statistics?
Statistics Sample
Population X
X 1 , X2 , X 3 ,

Performance of interest: random output X

X ~ a certain unknown distribution
Tasks of statistics:
Collecting data: draw samples
Summarizing and exploring data.
Drawing conclusions and making decisions based on data.
(Estimate parameters of population or infer something
about them based on the sample.)

Random sample is a set of independent and identically distributed (i.i.d)
observations of size n from the population:
X1, X2, , Xn
Sample statistic a numeric function of the sample data
h(X1, X2, , Xn)
Used to estimate population parameters
Sample statistics are random variables themselves.

Sample Statistic Population Parameters

1 n
Sample mean X Xi
n i 1
Mean = E(X)

1 n
Sample var. S2 ( X i X )2
n 1 i 1
Variance 2 = Var(X)



Distribution of a Statistic
A sample statistic is a RV and thus have its own distribution, called the
sampling distribution.
Some sampling distribution results
Draw i.i.d obs. (X1, X2, , Xn) from an population (distribution) with
unknown parameters and 2.
pdf of t-dist.
Sample mean and variance:
(a) E ( X ) Var ( X ) 2 / n
(b) E ( S 2 ) 2
(c) X
~ Students t-distribution
S/ n

P t n 1,1 / 2 t n 1,1 / 2 1
S/ n t n 1,1 / 2 t n 1,1 / 2
P X t n 1,1 / 2 X t n 1,1 / 2 1
n n 18

Point Estimation and CIs
P X t n 1,1 / 2 X t n 1,1 / 2 1
n n
CI for the population mean

[LCL, UCL] X t n 1,1 / 2 , X t n 1,1 / 2
n n
where tn-1,1- is the 100(1-th percentile of the students t distribution with
n-1degree of freedom (Excel function TINV can be used to compute tn-1,1-

100 (1 )% confidence interval (CI) for the parameter

An interval that contains (covers) the unknown population parameter with
specified probability 1
A sample statistic h(X1, X2, , Xn) that estimates (in some sense) a
population parameter, such as mean, variance,
Point estimates of parameters carry little information.

Prediction Intervals
CI: estimated interval for the mean of population.
A C.I. is a measure of the error; its length will shrink to 0 as we get more
~ Students t-distribution
S/ n
[ LCL, UCL ] X t n 1,1 / 2 , X t n 1,1 / 2
n n
Many practical applications call for an interval estimate of an individual
(future) observation sampled from a population rather than of the mean of
the population.
e.g., a company buying a new machine would like to estimate the
performance of that machine --- not the average performance of all the
machines produced by the manufacturer.

Assume that the population

distribution for RV X is
approximately normal

Prediction Intervals (contd)
Suppose that a random sample X1, X2, , Xn from an
approximately normal distribution N(, 2), where and
2 are both unknown parameters.
Estimate the interval such that with probability 1- a
random outcome X will fall within it
Prediction Interval (PI)

1 1
X t n 1,1 / 2 S 1 , X t n 1,1 / 2 S 1
n n

PI tries to capture what will actually happen in the future

The width of PI will stabilize as we get more data

~ Students t-distribution
S/ n

Dist. Of X pdf of t-dist.

tn 1,1 / 2 tn 1,1 / 2

Lets assume that the time it takes for a pumpkin candle to burn
itself out (burning time) is normally distributed. I bought 10
candles, burned them, and found that the sample mean of the
burning time is 5 hours, and the sample standard deviation is 1.2
RV X: candles burning time.
n = 10
X 5 hours
s = 1.2 hours
Q1: Provide a 95% confidence interval for the mean of the
burning time of candles.
[ LCL, UCL ] X t n 1,1 / 2 , X t n 1,1 / 2
n n

Example (contd)
Q2: Now I bought another candle, please write down the
interval estimate such that with probability 0.95 the burning time
of this particular candle will fall into that interval.

1 1
X t n 1,1 / 2 S 1 , X t n 1,1 / 2 S 1
n n


Summary Statistics
1. Take a random sample: independent and identically
distributed (i.i.d) observations of size n
X1, X2, , Xn
Stochastic System
Random output of X ~ a 2. Calculate sample statistics (functions of RVs X1, X2, ,
certain distribution with Xn), such as sample mean X and sample variance S2
UNKNOWN parameters ---- A sample statistic itself is a random variable.

~ Students t-distribution
S/ n

3. Based on sample statistics, make inferences of the

Examples of RV X: UNKNOWN distribution of X.
Selling price of a stock
next year CI P X tn1,1 / 2 S X tn1,1 / 2 S 1
Commute time from
n n
home to school

PI P X tn1,1 / 2 S 1 1 , Xn1 X tn1,1 / 2 S 1 1 1
n n

(Assuming that X ~ Norm)