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Math Help - Standard Deviation Formula

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Joined
    Dec 2009
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    Standard Deviation Formula

    Hi,
    For a sample standard deviation, why n-1 is under the square root? I think that the square root is should be only on the numerator since it is used to avoid the possibility of a negative value for the standard deviation.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    MHF Contributor
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    Re: Standard Deviation Formula

    Hey metallica007.

    Its got to do with un-biasedness and degrees of freedom. Basically something is unbiased when E[theta_hat] = theta where theta_hat is the estimator for theta and theta is the population parameter.

    In general, the theory is that if you estimate some quantity that depends on other estimated quantities, then you need to adjust your degrees of freedom. In this case, the variance/standard deviation depends on the mean so you account for 1 degree of freedom by using n - 1 instead of n in the denominator.

    Take a look here:

    Variance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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