Sampling error

Statistical error / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In statistics, sampling errors are incurred when the statistical characteristics of a population are estimated from a subset, or sample, of that population. Since the sample does not include all members of the population, statistics of the sample (often known as estimators), such as means and quartiles, generally differ from the statistics of the entire population (known as parameters). The difference between the sample statistic and population parameter is considered the sampling error.[1] For example, if one measures the height of a thousand individuals from a population of one million, the average height of the thousand is typically not the same as the average height of all one million people in the country.

Since sampling is almost always done to estimate population parameters that are unknown, by definition exact measurement of the sampling errors will not be possible; however they can often be estimated, either by general methods such as bootstrapping, or by specific methods incorporating some assumptions (or guesses) regarding the true population distribution and parameters thereof.