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RE: st: probability mass function for a binomial distribution

From   Philip Ryan <>
Subject   RE: st: probability mass function for a binomial distribution
Date   Mon, 30 Jun 2008 11:21:25 +0930


I note [using Stata 10, latest] that -help Binomial- returns help on -binomial()- not on -binomialtail()-
I believe in other circumstances Stata returns an "out of date" message for functions and commands whose names have changed (e.g. -help index- )


At 03:07 AM 30/06/2008, you wrote:

Readers following along should note the renaming of various functions in
territory from Stata 9 to Stata 10. Stata 10 users can see -help

That is, Carlo, as he signalled, is using Stata 9.

Stata 9's -Binomial()- is Stata 10's -binomialtail()-.
-Binomial()- continues to work.

Thus I think this appearance of being undocumented  is in fact a
side-effect of name change.


Steven Samuels

I agree with Nick's advice to construct the functions on first
principles whenever possible.

Interestingly, Carlo has discovered the apparently undocumented
"survival' function  Binomial(k,n,p) equal to P(X>=k), whereas the
documented  function binomial(k,n,p) is P(X<=k).   Here is a version
of Carlo's  program with a correction for k= 20.


/*---------------------------begin example-------------------------*/
drop _all
set obs 21
g id=_n-1
g n=20
g k=_n-1
g p=.2
g  double  Binomial=Binomial( n, k, p)
g  double  PMF_Binomial=Binomial[_n]- Binomial[_n+1] in 1/20
replace    PMF_Binomial=Binomial[_n] in 21   //Correction

g double PMF2 = 0.2^k * 0.8^(20 - k) * comb(20, k)

list id n k p Binomial binomial PMF*
/*--------------------------end example----------------------------*/

On Jun 29, 2008, at 11:26 AM, Nick Cox wrote:

> What is available as a defined function shows up a trade-off
> problem. It
> wouldn't be difficult to define a thousand functions, but then some
> people might complain about the complexity of the list and the
> difficulty of finding a solution.
> Otherwise put, I guess the answer to Carlo's question is that Stata
> users -- unlike spreadsheet users, it seems --- are paid the
> compliment
> of knowing enough statistics to work this out from first principles:
> gen double bmp = p^k * (1 - p)^(20 - k) * comb(20, k)
> Note in passing two other details:
> I prefer to use -double-s here.
> Putting constants into variables isn't necessary:
> gen double bmp = 0.2^k * 0.8^(20 - k) * comb(20, k)
> In cases like this the advantage of a canned function over a one-line
> solution using another canned function would be pretty small.
> Nick
> Carlo Lazzaro
> I have probably found out the answer to my last Friday thread.
> I do hope this may be useful for someone else on the list.
> However, a little concern remains about the lack among Stata 9.2/SE
> commands
> of an in-built for calculating the (probably too trivial) probability
> mass
> function for a binomial distribution, which is instead available
> within
> the
> most widespread spreadsheets.
> One more time, my grateful thought go out to Steve and Nick (in
> order of
> appearance in my incoming e-mail folder) for pointing me out the
> importance
> of a step-by-step research in dealing with Stata troubles.
> ---------------------------begin example-------------------------
> set obs 21
> g id=_n-1
> g n=20
> g k=_n-1
> g p=.2
> g Binomial=Binomial( n, k, p)
> g PMF_Binomial=1- Binomial if id==20
> replace PMF_Binomial=Binomial[_n]- Binomial[_n+1] in 1/20
> --------------------------end example----------------------------

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Philip Ryan
Discipline of Public Health

Director, Data Management & Analysis Centre

Associate Dean (IT)
Faculty of Health Sciences

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