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In practice, we rarely know the population standard deviation . In the past, when the sample size was large, this did not present a problem to statisticians. They used the sample standard deviation s as an estimate for σ and proceeded as before to calculate a confidence interval with close enough results. However, statisticians ran into problems when the sample size was small. A small sample size caused inaccuracies in the confidence interval.

William S. Goset (1876–1937) of the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland ran into this problem. His experiments with hops and barley produced very few samples. Just replacing σ with s did not produce accurate results when he tried to calculate a confidence interval. He realized that he could not use a normal distribution for the calculation; he found that the actual distribution depends on the sample size. This problem led him to "discover" what is called the Student's t-distribution . The name comes from the fact that Gosset wrote under the pen name "Student."

Up until the mid-1970s, some statisticians used the normal distribution approximation for large sample sizes and only used the Student's t-distribution only for sample sizes of at most 30. With graphing calculators and computers, the practice now is to use the Student's t-distribution whenever s is used as an estimate for σ .

If you draw a simple random sample of size n from a population that has an approximately a normal distribution with mean μ and unknown population standard deviation σ and calculate the t -score t = x ¯ μ ( s n ) , then the t -scores follow a Student's t-distribution with n – 1 degrees of freedom . The t -score has the same interpretation as the z -score . It measures how far x ¯ is from its mean μ . For each sample size n , there is a different Student's t-distribution.

The degrees of freedom , n – 1 , come from the calculation of the sample standard deviation s . In [link] , we used n deviations ( x x ¯ values ) to calculate s . Because the sum of the deviations is zero, we can find the last deviation once we know the other n – 1 deviations. The other n – 1 deviations can change or vary freely. We call the number n – 1 the degrees of freedom (df).

    Properties of the student's t-distribution

  • The graph for the Student's t-distribution is similar to the standard normal curve.
  • The mean for the Student's t-distribution is zero and the distribution is symmetric about zero.
  • The Student's t-distribution has more probability in its tails than the standard normal distribution because the spread of the t-distribution is greater than the spread of the standard normal. So the graph of the Student's t-distribution will be thicker in the tails and shorter in the center than the graph of the standard normal distribution.
  • The exact shape of the Student's t-distribution depends on the degrees of freedom. As the degrees of freedom increases, the graph of Student's t-distribution becomes more like the graph of the standard normal distribution.
  • The underlying population of individual observations is assumed to be normally distributed with unknown population mean μ and unknown population standard deviation σ . The size of the underlying population is generally not relevant unless it is very small. If it is bell shaped (normal) then the assumption is met and doesn't need discussion. Random sampling is assumed, but that is a completely separate assumption from normality.

Questions & Answers

mean is number that occurs frequently in a giving data
Chinedu Reply
That places the mode and the mean as the same thing. I'd define the mean as the ratio of the total sum of variables to the variable count, and it assigns the variables a similar value across the board.
Samsicker
what is mean
John Reply
what is normal distribution
RAHAT Reply
What is the uses of sample in real life
Waqas Reply
pain scales in hospital
Lisa
change of origin and scale
RAHAT Reply
3. If the grades of 40000 students in a course at the Hashemite University are distributed according to N(60,400) Then the number of students with grades less than 75 =*
Ahmad Reply
If a constant value is added to every observation of data, then arithmetic mean is obtained by
Madiha Reply
sum of AM+Constnt
Fazal
data can be defined as numbers in context. suppose you are given the following set of numbers 18,22,22,20,19,21
Tyasia Reply
what are data
Tyasia Reply
what is mode?
Natasha Reply
what is statistics
Natasha
statistics is a combination of collect data summraize data analyiz data and interprete data
Ali
what is mode
Natasha
what is statistics
Alex Reply
It is the science of analysing numerical data in large quantities, especially for the purpose of inferring proportions in a whole from those in a representative sample.
Bernice
history of statistics
Terseer Reply
statistics was first used by?
Terseer
if a population has a prevalence of Hypertension 5%, what is the probability of 4 people having hypertension from 8 randomly selected individuals?
John Reply
Carpet land sales persons average 8000 per weekend sales Steve qantas the firm's vice president proposes a compensation plan with new selling incentives Steve hopes that the results of a trial selling period will enable him to conclude that the compensation plan increases the average sales per sales
lorenda Reply
Supposed we have Standard deviation 1.56, mean 6.36, sample size 25 and Z-score 1.96 at 95% confidence level, what is the confidence interval?
John Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introductory statistics. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11562/1.18
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