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Populations and Samples Help (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 26, 2011

Frequency, Parameter, and Statistic

Frequency

The frequency of a particular outcome (result) of an event is the number of times that outcome occurs within a specific sample of a population. Don't confuse this with radio broadcast or computer processor frequencies! In statistics, the term ''frequency'' means ''often-ness.'' There are two species of statistical frequency: absolute frequency and relative frequency.

Suppose you toss a die 6000 times. If the die is not ''weighted,'' you should expect that the die will turn up showing one dot approximately 1000 times, two dots approximately 1000 times, and so on, up to six dots approximately 1000 times. The absolute frequency in such an experiment is therefore approximately 1000 for each face of the die. The relative frequency for each of the six faces is approximately 1 in 6, which is equivalent to about 16.67%.

Parameter

A specific, well-defined characteristic of a population is known as a parameter of that population. We might want to know such parameters as the following, concerning the populations mentioned above:

  • The most popular assigned FM broadcast frequency in the United States.
  • The highest temperature reading in the city of New York as determined at hourly intervals last Wednesday.
  • The average minimum barometric-pressure level or measurement at the centers of all the hurricanes in recorded history.
  • The lowest brightness level found in all the light bulbs in offices in Minneapolis.
  • The highest sound-intensity level found in all the electric vacuum cleaners used in the world.

Statistic

A specific characteristic of a sample is called a statistic of that sample. We might want to know such statistics as these, concerning the samples mentioned above:

  • The most popular assigned frequency for FM broadcast stations in Ohio.
  • The highest temperature reading at 1:00 P.M. local time last Wednesday in New York.
  • The average minimum barometric-pressure level or measurement at the centers of Atlantic hurricanes during the decade 1991–2000.
  • The lowest brightness level found in all the halogen bulbs in offices in Minneapolis.
  • The highest sound-intensity level found in electric vacuum cleaners used in households in Rochester, Minnesota.

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:  Learning the Statistics Jargon Practice Test

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