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Statistic - short version

A calculated value derived from a set of sample data used to describe a characteristic of a population.

Statistic - long version

statistic (singular) is a single measure of some attribute of a sample (e.g. its arithmetic mean value). It is calculated by applying a function (statistical algorithm) to the values of the items comprising the sample which are known together as a set of data. More formally, statistical theory defines a statistic as a function of a sample where the function itself is independent of the sample's distribution; that is, the function can be stated before realisation of the data. The term statistic is used both for the function and for the value of the function on a given sample.

A statistic is distinct from a statistical parameter, which is not computable because often the population is much too large to examine and measure all its items. However a statistic, when used to estimate a population parameter, is called an estimator. For instance, the sample mean is a statistic which estimates the population mean, which is a parameter.


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