Blog posts and articles about the role of the normal distribution in statistics, data analysis, and quality improvement.

When we take pictures with a
digital camera or smartphone, what the device really does
is capture information in the form of binary code. At the most
basic level, our precious photos are really just a bunch of 1s and
0s, but if we were to look at them that way, they'd be pretty
unexciting.
In its raw state, all that
information the camera records is worthless. The 1s and 0s need to be converted... Continue Reading

The 1949 film A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's
Court includes the song “Busy Doing Nothing,” and this
could be written about the
Null Hypothesis as it is used in statistical
analyses.
The words to the song go:
We're busy doin' nothin'Workin' the whole day through
Tryin' to find lots of things not to do
And that summarises the role of
the Null Hypothesis perfectly. Let me explain why.
What's... Continue Reading

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by Colin Courchesne, guest blogger, representing his
Governor's School research team.
High-level research opportunities for high school students are
rare; however, that was just what the New Jersey Governor’s School
of Engineering and Technology provided.
Bringing together the best and brightest rising seniors from
across the state, the Governor’s School, or GSET for short, tasks
teams of... Continue Reading

If you've read the first two
parts of this tale, you know
it started when I published a post that involved transforming
data for capability analysis. When an astute reader asked why
Minitab didn't seem to transform the data outside of the capability
analysis, it revealed
an oversight that invalidated the original
analysis.
I
removed the errant post. But to my
surprise, the reader who helped me... Continue Reading

I don't like the taste
of crow. That's a shame, because I'm about to eat a huge helping of
it.
I'm going to tell you
how I messed up an analysis. But in the process, I learned some new
lessons and was reminded of some older ones I should remember to
apply more carefully.
This Failure Starts in
a Victory
My mistake originated in the
2015 Triple Crown victory of American Pharoah. I'm no... Continue Reading

Every now and then I’ll test my
Internet speed at home using such sites as http://speedtest.comcast.net or http://www.att.com/speedtest/. My need to perform these tests could
stem from the cool-looking interfaces they employ on their site, as
they display the results using analog speedometers and RPM meters.
They could also stem from the validation that I need in "getting
what I am paying for,"... Continue Reading

By Matthew Barsalou, guest
blogger.
Many statistical tests assume the data being tested came from a
normal distribution. Violating the assumption of normality can
result in incorrect conclusions. For example, a Z test may indicate
a new process is more efficient than an older process when this is
not true. This could result in a capital investment for equipment
that actually results in higher... Continue Reading

Scientists who use the Hubble Space Telescope to explore the
galaxy receive a stream of digitized images in the form binary
code. In this state, the information is essentially worthless-
these 1s and 0s must first be converted into pictures before the
scientists can learn anything from them.
The same is true of statistical distributions and parameters that are used to describe sample data. They... Continue Reading

In
previous posts, I discussed the results of a recycling project done
by Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology last
spring. (If you’re playing catch up, you can read Part I and Part II.)
The students did an awesome job reducing the amount of recycling
that was thrown into the normal trash cans across all of the
institution’s academic buildings. At the end of the spring... Continue Reading

by Matthew Barsalou, guest
blogger.
The old saying “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and
looks like a duck, then it must be a duck” may be appropriate in
bird watching; however, the same idea can’t be applied when
observing a statistical distribution. The dedicated ornithologist
is often armed with binoculars and a field guide to the local birds
and this should be sufficient. A... Continue Reading

As a Minitab
trainer, one of the most common questions I get from training
participants is "what should I do when my data isn’t normal?" A
large number of statistical tests are based on the assumption of
normality, so not having data that is normally distributed
typically instills a lot of fear.
Many practitioners suggest that if your data are not normal, you
should do a nonparametric version of... Continue Reading

A while back, I offered an
overview of process capability analysis that emphasized
the importance of matching your analysis to the distribution of
your data.
If you're already familiar with different types of
distributions, Minitab makes it easy to identify what type of data
you're working with, or to transform your data to approximate the
normal distribution.
But what if you're not so great with... Continue Reading

In 1898, Russian economist Ladislaus Bortkiewicz published his
first statistics book entitled Das Gesetz der keinem
Zahlen, in which he included an example that
eventually became famous for illustrating the Poisson distribution.
Bortkiewicz researched
the annual deaths by horse kicks in the Prussian Army from
1875-1984. Data was recorded from 14 different army corps, with one
being the Guard... Continue Reading

To choose the
right statistical analysis, you need to know the distribution of
your data. Suppose you want to assess the capability of your
process. If you conduct an analysis that assumes the data follow a
normal distribution when, in fact, the data are nonnormal, your
results will be inaccurate. To avoid this costly error, you must
determine the distribution of your data.
So, how do you determine... Continue Reading

Imagine that you are watching a race and that you are located
close to the finish line. When the first and fastest runners
complete the race, the differences in times between them will
probably be quite small.
Now wait until the last runners arrive and consider their
finishing times. For these slowest runners, the differences in
completion times will be extremely large. This is due to the fact
that... Continue Reading

by Lion "Ari" Ondiappan Arivazhagan, guest blogger.
Predicting project completion times is one of the major
challenges project managers face. Project schedule overruns are
quite common due to the high uncertainty in estimating the amount
of time activities require, a lack of historical data
about project
completion, organizational culture, inadequate skills, the complex
and elaborative nature of... Continue Reading

Welcome to the Hypothesis Test Casino! The featured game of the
house is roulette. But this is no ordinary game of
roulette. This is p-value roulette!
Here’s how it works: We have two roulette wheels, the Null wheel
and the Alternative wheel. Each wheel has 20 slots (instead of the
usual 37 or 38). You get to bet on one slot.
What happens if the ball lands in the slot you bet on? Well,
that depends... Continue Reading

It’s safe to say that most people who use statistics are more
familiar with parametric analyses than nonparametric analyses.
Nonparametric tests are also called distribution-free tests because
they don’t assume that your data follow a specific
distribution.
You may have heard that you should use nonparametric tests when
your data don’t meet the assumptions of the parametric test,
especially the... Continue Reading

In part 1 of this post, I covered how Six Sigma students at
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology cleaned up and
prepared project data for a regression analysis. Now we're
ready to start our analysis. We’ll detail the steps in that process
and what we can learn from our results.
What Factors Are Important?
We collected data about 11 factors we believe could be
significant:
Whether the date of... Continue Reading

By Peter Olejnik, guest blogger.
Previous posts on the Minitab Blog have discussed the work of
the Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
to reduce the quantities of recyclables that wind up in the trash.
Led by Dr. Diane Evans, these students continue to make an
important impact on their community.
As
with any Six Sigma process, the results of the work need to be
evaluated. A... Continue Reading