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st: Terminology for supposedly all-purpose summaries


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: Terminology for supposedly all-purpose summaries
Date   Mon, 11 Oct 2004 10:56:02 +0100

It seems difficult to resist the temptation to try 
to summarise the performance of any model by one (or 
a few) figures of merit. Like many others, I know 
that any single measure can miss a lot that is 
important, but I often succumb, especially when 
the models are many and the space is short. 

I am aware of the following _general_ terminology that 
people use to discuss attempts to pack all the 
information into one number: 

factotum     |  index 
omnibus      |  measure 
portmanteau  |  statistic 

Any of the terms on the left can be combined 
with any of the terms on the right. I guess that
the portmanteau terminology owes a lot to Lewis 
Carroll's sense of that word. 

(Of course there are all sorts of _particular_ 
measures, R^2, AIC, BIC, etc., etc., not my 
concern here.) 

All these terms have been in the literature for 
at least 50 years. Sometimes they are used positively
("look, this test tests for everything at once") 
and sometimes negatively ("yes indeed, what a bad 
idea"). 

Can anything add to this list, especially any 
colourful (but not offensive) used by 
charismatic teachers, leaders in the field, 
etc.? 

I am aware of the technical concept of _sufficiency_, 
not the issue here as I see it. 

Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

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