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point estimation and interval estimation

Module - 6 Statistical Inference

Lesson - 1 Point Estimation and Interval Estimation

**Overview**

Point estimation and interval estimation are two important concepts in statistics used to estimate population parameters from sample data. Point estimation involves estimating a population parameter by using a single value, while interval estimation involves constructing a range of values that contains the population parameter with a certain level of confidence. Point estimation is simpler and faster to calculate but provides less information than interval estimation. Interval estimation provides more information but requires more calculations and assumptions. Ultimately, the choice between point estimation and interval estimation depends on the specific research question, sample size, level of precision, and confidence level desired by the researcher.

**Introduction to Estimation**

Estimation is a statistical method used to estimate unknown parameters of a population based on a sample of data. There are two types of estimation: point estimation and interval estimation.

**Point Estimation**

Point estimation involves using a single value, called a point estimator, to estimate the unknown population parameter. For example, the sample mean can be used as a point estimator of the population mean, and the sample proportion can be used as a point estimator of the population proportion.

The formula for the sample mean is:

```
x̄ = Σxi / n
```

where

`**x̄**`

is the sample mean, `**Σxi**`

is the sum of the sample values, and `**n**`

is the sample size.
The formula for the sample proportion is:

```
p̂ = x / n
```

where **p̂** is the sample proportion, **x** is the number of sample values that have the characteristic of interest, and **n** is the sample size.

**Properties of Point Estimators**

A good point estimator should have three desirable properties: unbiasedness, consistency, and efficiency.

Unbiasedness means that the expected value of the point estimator is equal to the true population parameter. A point estimator that is biased will systematically overestimate or underestimate the population parameter.

Consistency means that as the sample size increases, the point estimator becomes closer and closer to the true population parameter. A consistent point estimator will converge to the true parameter as the sample size increases.

Efficiency means that the point estimator has the smallest possible variance among all unbiased point estimators. An efficient point estimator will provide the most precise estimates of the population parameter.

The mean squared error (MSE) is a measure of the performance of a point estimator. The MSE is defined as the expected value of the squared difference between the point estimator and the true parameter. A good point estimator will have a small MSE.

**Interval Estimation**

Interval estimation involves constructing a range of values, called a confidence interval, that is likely to contain the unknown population parameter with a certain level of confidence. For example, a 95% confidence interval for the population mean would contain the true population mean in 95% of all possible samples.

The formula for a confidence interval for the population mean is:

```
x̄ ± zα/2 * σ / √n
```

where

`**x̄**`

is the sample mean, `**zα/2**`

is the z-score that corresponds to the desired level of confidence, `**σ**`

is the population standard deviation (if known) or the sample standard deviation (if unknown), and `**n**`

is the sample size.
The formula for a confidence interval for the population proportion is:

```
p̂ ± zα/2 * √(p̂(1 - p̂)) / n
```

where **p̂** is the sample proportion, **zα/2** is the z-score that corresponds to the desired level of confidence, and **n** is the sample size.

**Properties of Confidence Intervals**

A good confidence interval should have two desirable properties: coverage probability and margin of error.

Coverage probability means that the confidence interval will contain the true population parameter with a certain level of confidence. For example, a 95% confidence interval should contain the true population parameter in 95% of all possible samples.

Margin of error is a measure of the precision of the confidence interval. The margin of error is defined as half the width of the confidence interval. A narrower confidence interval will have a smaller margin of error and be more precise.

**Confidence Interval Estimation**

Interval estimation is another method of estimation that provides a range of plausible values for a population parameter. Unlike point estimation, it provides a range of values rather than a single value. The range is called the confidence interval, and it represents a level of certainty that the true population parameter falls within the interval.

The confidence interval is computed by taking the point estimate and adding and subtracting a margin of error. The margin of error is based on the level of confidence, the sample size, and the standard error of the point estimate. A common level of confidence used in interval estimation is 95%.

For example, suppose we want to estimate the mean weight of all dogs in a population. We take a sample of 100 dogs and compute the sample mean weight to be 30 pounds with a standard deviation of 5 pounds. We want to construct a 95% confidence interval for the population mean weight.

Using the formula for a confidence interval for the population mean, we can compute the margin of error as follows:

```
Margin of error = Z_(α/2) * (s/√n) = 1.96 * (5/√100) = 0.98
```

We then construct the confidence interval as follows:

```
Confidence interval = sample mean ± margin of error = 30 ± 0.98 = (29.02, 30.98)
```

This means we are 95% confident that the true population mean weight falls within the interval of 29.02 to 30.98 pounds.

**Types of Interval Estimation**

There are different types of interval estimation, depending on the parameter being estimated and the method used to compute the confidence interval. Some common types are:

- Confidence interval for the population mean: This is used to estimate the population mean when the population standard deviation is unknown. It uses the t-distribution to compute the critical value for the confidence interval.
- Confidence interval for the population proportion: This is used to estimate the population proportion, such as the proportion of voters who support a certain candidate. It uses the normal distribution to compute the critical value for the confidence interval.
- Confidence interval for the difference between two means: This is used to estimate the difference between two population means. It uses either the t-distribution or normal distribution, depending on the sample sizes and whether the variances are assumed to be equal or not.
- Confidence interval for the difference between two proportions: This is used to estimate the difference between two population proportions. It uses either the normal distribution or the chi-square distribution, depending on the sample sizes and whether the variances are assumed to be equal or not.

**Limitations and Assumptions of Interval Estimation**

Interval estimation, like point estimation, relies on certain assumptions and has some limitations. Some of the key assumptions and limitations are:

- The sample is representative of the population: Interval estimation assumes that the sample is randomly selected and represents the population of interest. If the sample is biased or non-random, the confidence interval may not be accurate.
- Normality assumption: Interval estimation assumes that the population is normally distributed or that the sample size is large enough for the central limit theorem to apply. If the data is not normally distributed and the sample size is small, the confidence interval may not be accurate.
- Independence assumption: Interval estimation assumes that the observations are independent of each other. If there is correlation or dependence between the observations, the confidence interval may not be accurate.
- Finite population correction: If the sample size is a significant portion of the population size, a finite population correction factor may need to be applied to adjust the confidence interval.

**Conclusion**

In conclusion, point estimation and interval estimation are two important concepts in statistics used to estimate population parameters based on sample data. Point estimation provides a single value estimate for the population parameter, while interval estimation provides a range of values that the population parameter is likely to fall within. Both methods have their own advantages and limitations, and the choice of method depends on the specific research question and data at hand. It is important to understand the assumptions and conditions required for both methods, and to interpret the results appropriately.

**Key Takeaways**

- Point estimation involves using sample data to estimate a population parameter with a single value.
- The most common point estimator is the sample mean, which is an unbiased and efficient estimator of the population mean.
- Interval estimation provides a range of values within which the population parameter is likely to fall.
- Confidence intervals are the most commonly used type of interval estimation, and are calculated based on the sample mean and standard error.
- Confidence level and sample size are two important factors that affect the width of the confidence interval.
- Both point estimation and interval estimation have their own advantages and limitations, and the choice of method depends on the specific research question and data at hand.
- It is important to understand the assumptions and conditions required for both methods, and to interpret the results appropriately.

**Quiz**

**1. What is the key difference between point estimation and interval estimation?**

a) Point estimation provides a range of values while interval estimation provides a single value.

b) Point estimation involves using sample statistics while interval estimation uses population parameters.

c) Point estimation provides a single value while interval estimation provides a range of values.

d) Point estimation is used for discrete variables while interval estimation is used for continuous variables.

**Answer**: c) Point estimation provides a single value while interval estimation provides a range of values.

**2. Which of the following is an example of point estimation?**

a) Estimating the average height of all students in a school based on a sample of 30 students.

b) Estimating the proportion of voters who will support a particular candidate in an upcoming election.

c) Estimating the standard deviation of a population based on a sample of 50 observations.

d) Estimating the median income of a population based on a sample of 100 households.

**Answer**: a) Estimating the average height of all students in a school based on a sample of 30 students.

**3. What is the purpose of confidence intervals in interval estimation?**

a) To provide an exact estimate of the population parameter.

b) To provide a range of values that contains the population parameter with a certain level of confidence.

c) To determine the standard error of the sampling distribution.

d) To identify the margin of error in the sample statistics. **Answer**: b) To provide a range of values that contains the population parameter with a certain level of confidence.

**4. Which of the following factors affects the width of a confidence interval?**

a) Sample size and population size.

b) Significance level and sample size.

c) Sample size and variability in the sample.

d) Significance level and population size.

**Answer**: c) Sample size and variability in the sample.

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