Mathematical statistics is the study of statistics from a mathematical standpoint, using probability theory as well as other branches of mathematics such as linear algebra and analysis.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

148
votes
3answers
62k views

What is the intuitive relationship between SVD and PCA

Singular value decomposition (SVD) and principal component analysis (PCA) are two eigenvalue methods used to reduce a high-dimensional dataset into fewer dimensions while retaining important ...
89
votes
6answers
23k views

How often does it happen that the oldest person alive dies?

Today, we are brought the sad news that Europe's oldest woman died. A little over a week ago the oldest person in the U.S. unfortunately died. Yesterday, the Netherlands' oldest man died peacefully. ...
79
votes
9answers
13k views

If I flip a coin 1000 times in a row and it lands on heads all 1000 times, what is the probability that it's an unfair coin?

Consider a two-sided coin. If I flip it $1000$ times and it lands heads up for each flip, what is the probability that the coin is unfair, and how do we quantify that if it is unfair? Furthermore, ...
46
votes
5answers
25k views

How to intuitively understand eigenvalue and eigenvector?

I'm learning multivariate analysis and I have learnt linear algebra for two semester when I was a freshman. Eigenvalue and eigenvector is easy to calculate and the concept is not difficult to ...
41
votes
17answers
6k views

Is the Law of Large Numbers empirically proven?

Does this reflect the real world and what is the empirical evidence behind this? Layman here so please avoid abstract math in your response. The Law of Large Numbers states that the average of the ...
40
votes
3answers
16k views

Is there a mathematical reason why chocolate chip cookies have 37% (1/e) chocolate in them?

Someone once briefly explained to me why it is that chocolate chip cookies have 37% chocolate in them. To the best of my memory it has to do with the way trying to place dots in a circle in a random ...
34
votes
10answers
3k views

Real life usage of Benford's Law

I recently discovered Benford's Law. I find it very fascinating. I'm wondering what are some of the real life uses of Benford's law. Specific examples would be great.
33
votes
3answers
5k views

Why does this not seem to be random?

I was running a procedure to be like one of those games were people try to guess a number between 1 and 100 where there are 100 people guessing.I then averaged how many different guesses there are. ...
33
votes
3answers
924 views

Guessing the length of a playlist on “shuffle random?”

The other night I was hanging out with some friends and someone put on a playlist on shuffle random, where the songs are drawn uniformly at random from a fixed playlist. The person who put the ...
32
votes
8answers
7k views

Why do we use a Least Squares fit?

I've been wondering for a while now if there's any deep mathematical or statistical significance to finding the line that minimizes the square of the errors between the line and the data points. If ...
32
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is the error function defined as it is?

$\newcommand{\erf}{\operatorname{erf}}$ This may be a very naïve question, but here goes. The error function $\erf$ is defined by $$\erf(x) = \frac{2}{\sqrt{\pi}} \int_0^x e^{-t^2}dt.$$ Of ...
28
votes
2answers
410 views

Statistics Primer for the Unwary Mathematician

I have a new position in a biology department (after being housed in a maths department) working on cognitive and population modeling. People in my lab are asking for help with applying statistical ...
25
votes
11answers
10k views

Two dice thrown, one comes up 6

If my friend throws two dice, and covers them up, but I see that one of them was a 6, what's the probability that they were both 6s given this knowledge? I'm under the impression that the answer is ...
24
votes
4answers
30k views

Variance of sample variance?

What is the variance of the sample variance? In other words I am looking for $\mathrm{Var}(S^2)$. I have started by expanding out $\mathrm{Var}(S^2)$ into $E(S^4) - [E(S^2)]^2$ I know that ...
24
votes
6answers
888 views

Does exceptionalism persist as sample size gets large?

Which of the following is more surprising? In a group of 100 people, the tallest person is one inch taller than the second tallest person. In a group of one billion people, the tallest person is one ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

If a lottery has 300 tickets, shouldn't I win every 300 times I play

Suppose I play a lottery that has 300 tickets. I can only buy one ticket per draw. Statistically speaking, shouldn't I win once every 300 draws? Is it more complicated than this? Edit This question ...
22
votes
12answers
2k views

Statistics: Why doesn't the probability of an accurate medical test equal the probability of you having disease?

Suppose there is a test for Disease A that is correct 90% of the time. You had this test done, and it came out positive. I understand that the chance that this test is right is 90%, but I thought this ...
22
votes
7answers
27k views

What is the probability of a coin landing tails 7 times in a row in a series of 150 coin flips?

If you were to flip a coin 150 times, what is the probability that it would land tails 7 times in a row? How about 6 times in a row? Is there some forumula that can calculate this probability?
22
votes
2answers
406 views

How long does it take a person with this “cheating” data-gathering strategy to achieve a desired result?

I have a perfectly fair coin, and my goal is to prove that it is unfair with a confidence level of 95%. In order to accomplish this, I will cheat. Whenever I fail to have enough evidence, I will ...
21
votes
2answers
11k views

how does expectation maximization work?

I'm reading a tutorial on expectation maximization which gives an example of a coin flipping experiment (the description is at ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

StarCraft II: Ladder math

At the Blizzcon 2010, StarCraft II multiplayer panel, this stuff was supposed to explain the ladder matchmaking system. I look at this and go eh? what!? Is any of this real? or are they just ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Example of two dependent random variables that satisfy $E[f(X)f(Y)]=Ef(X)Ef(Y)$ for every $f$

Does anyone have an example of two dependent random variables, that satisfy this relation? $E[f(X)f(Y)]=E[f(X)]E[f(Y)]$ for every function $f(t)$. Thanks. *edit: I still couldn't find an example. I ...
18
votes
3answers
6k views

Intuitive explanation of a definition of the Fisher information

I'm studying statistics. When I read the textbook about Fisher Information, I couldn't understand why the Fisher Information is defined like this: $$I(\theta)=E_\theta\left[-\frac{\partial^2 ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

1/1000 chance of a reaction. If you do the action 1000 times, whats the new chance the reaction occurs?

A hypothetical example: You have a 1/1000 chance of being hit by a bus when crossing the street. However, if you perform the action of crossing the street 1000 times, then your chance of being ...
17
votes
4answers
8k views

Intuition behind using complementary CDF to compute expectation for nonnegative random variables

I've read the proof for why $\int_0^\infty P(X >x)dx=E[X]$ for nonnegative random variables (located here) and understand its mechanics, but I'm having trouble understanding the intuition behind ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Motivation behind standard deviation?

Let's take the numbers 0-10. Their mean is 5, and the individual deviations from 5 are -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 And so the average (magnitude of) ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Statistics : Where did this degree of freedom formula for the T distribution come from?

I am on the hypothesis testing for two populations unit. I need some intuitive explanation as to why this formula is used. My statistics professor put this up on the board but he didn't explain why ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Beta function derivation

How do I derive the Beta function using the definition of the beta function as the normalizing constant of the Beta distribution and only common sense random experiments? I'm pretty sure this is ...
16
votes
4answers
14k views

Is positive the same as non-negative?

I would assume the answer to my question is yes, but I want to make sure because my book uses both terminologies. Please also indicate where zero falls into the mix. UPDATE: Here is an excerpt from ...
16
votes
7answers
6k views

Intuitive Explanation of Bessel's Correction

When calculating a sample variance a factor of (N-1) appears instead of N (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sample_variance#Population_variance_and_sample_variance ). Does anybody have an intuitive ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does Benford's Law (or Zipf's Law) hold?

Both Benford's Law (if you take a list of values, the distribution of the most significant digit is rougly proportional to the logarithm of the digit) and Zipf's Law (given a corpus of natural ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Average IQ of Mensa

I was wondering, what the average IQ at Mensa is. Mensa is a group of people with an IQ of at least 130. And the IQ is normally distribed with $\mu = 100$ and $\sigma = 15$. My idea was this: To ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

How was the normal distribution derived?

Abraham de Moivre, when he came up with this formula, had to assure that the points of inflection were exactly one standard deviation away from the center, and so that it was bell-shaped, as well as ...
14
votes
2answers
4k views

derivative of cost function for Logistic Regression

I am going over the lectures on Machine Learning at Coursera. I am struggling with the following. How can the partial derivative of ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Odds of guessing suit from a deck of cards, with perfect memory

While teaching my daughter why drawing to an inside straight is almost always a bad idea, we stumbled upon what I think is a far more difficult problem: You have a standard 52-card deck with 4 suits ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

The Best Strategy and Highest Possible Score for the “Threes!” Game.

[There's still the strategy to go. A suitably robust argument that establishes what is statistically the best strategy will be accepted.] Here's my description of the game: There's a $4\times 4$ ...
14
votes
2answers
447 views

Does $\pi$ satisfy the law of the iterated logarithm?

It is widely conjectured that $\pi$ is normal in base $2$. But what about the law of the iterated logarithm? Namely, if $x_n$ is the $n$th binary digit of $\pi$, does it seem likely (from ...
13
votes
2answers
423 views

metric in the Wasserstein space of gaussian measures

I am reading the paper "Wasserstein Geometry of Gaussian measures" by Asuka Takatsu (section 3 is of interest to me) and I have difficulties understanding how the metric is used. In particular, I am ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Why get the sum of squares instead of the sum of absolute values?

I'm self-studying machine learning and getting into the basics of linear regression models. From what I understand so far, a good regression model minimizes the sum of the squared differences between ...
12
votes
5answers
856 views

Why “bother” with a null hypothesis at all?

(note: this is a very basic probability question, so it is highly probable (heh) that it is a duplicate) Every time I am trying to get into statistics (again), I am always lost at hypothesis testing. ...
12
votes
2answers
7k views

Proof of upper-tail inequality for standard normal distribution

$X \sim \mathcal{N}(0,1)$, then to show that for $x > 0$, $$ \mathbb{P}(X>x) \leq \frac{\exp(-x^2/2)}{x \sqrt{2 \pi}} \>. $$
12
votes
1answer
38k views

Sample Standard Deviation vs. Population Standard Deviation

I have an HP 50g graphing calculator and I am using it to calculate the standard deviation of some data. In the statistics calculation there is a type which can have two values: Sample Population I ...
12
votes
3answers
309 views

Efficient computation of $E\left[\left(1+X_1+\cdots+X_n\right)^{-1}\right]$ with $(X_i)$ independent Bernoulli with varying parameter

Suppose we have the random variables $X_1, \ldots, X_n$ that have Bernoulli distributions with the (possibly different) probabilities $p_1, \ldots, p_n$. For example, $X_1$ = 1 with probability $p_1$ ...
12
votes
4answers
682 views

probability and statistics: Does having little correlation imply independence?

Suppose there are two correlated random variable and having very small correlation coefficient (order of 10-1). Is it valid to approximate it as independent random variables?
12
votes
1answer
227 views

Expectancy value for the percentage of points lying in the Convex Hull (3D)

Suppose I chose n uniformly distributed random points in a 3D cube. What is the expected value for the percentage of points lying on the convex hull as a function of n? Just as a reference, I made ...
12
votes
3answers
539 views

Fast computation/estimation of the nuclear norm of a matrix

The nuclear norm of a matrix is defined as the sum of its singular values, as given by the Singular Value Decomposition of the matrix itself. It is of central importance in Signal Processing and ...
11
votes
4answers
11k views

Is there a simple test for uniform distributions?

I have a function that (more or less) is supposed to select a small number $m$ of random numbers from the range $[1,n]$ (for some $n \gg m$) and I need to test that it work. Is there an easy to ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the Probability that a Knight stays on chessboard after N hops?

Say a $8 \times 8$ chessboard as per picture. A position is represented here by co-ordinates $(x,y)$. A move is aslo considered as valid, where the Knight lands outside the chessboard [ For eg. ...
11
votes
2answers
734 views

You see a route 14 bus on the moon. What is the most likely number of bus routes on the moon?

This question was asked on a forum and while many argued that the answer is 14 (since the probability of you seeing bus 14 is maximum in this case), I argued against it that they were working ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

sum of squares of dependent gaussian random variables

Ok, so the Chi-Squared distribution with n degrees of freedom is the sum of the squares of n independent gaussian random variables. The trouble is, my gaussian random variables are not independent. ...