Notice: On March 31, it was announced that Statalist is moving from an email list to a forum. The old list will shut down on April 23, and its replacement, statalist.org is already up and running.

# Re: st: Unbiased standard deviation in summarize

 From Nick Cox To statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu Subject Re: st: Unbiased standard deviation in summarize Date Fri, 16 Nov 2012 23:12:56 +0000

```Note that that example correction factor was only for normal distributions.

Nick

On Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 10:52 PM, Nick Cox <njcoxstata@gmail.com> wrote:
> The formula used by -summarize- is documented. Even if it weren't
> experiment would show that the SD is calculated as the square root of
> the variance, itself calculated with a divisor of (n - 1).
>
> . set obs 7
> obs was 0, now 7
>
> . gen y = _n
>
> . su y
>
>     Variable |       Obs        Mean    Std. Dev.       Min        Max
> -------------+--------------------------------------------------------
>            y |         7           4    2.160247          1          7
>
> . mata
> ------------------------------------------------- mata (type end to
> exit) ---------------------------------------------
> : y = 1::7
>
> : sqrt(mean((y :- mean(y)):^2))
>   2
> : sqrt(sum((y :- mean(y)):^2)/6)
>   2.160246899
>
> Although a divisor of (n - 1) does give an unbiased estimate of
> variance, its square root is _not_ an unbiased estimate of SD, and you
> would need to program a correction factor yourself.
>
> : n = 7
>
> : sqrt(2 / (n - 1)) * exp(lngamma(n / 2)) / exp(lngamma((n - 1)/2))
>   .9593687887
>
> This is not quite what is given at
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbiased_estimation_of_standard_deviation
>
> It's also documented everywhere that Stata is called "Stata".
>
> Nick
>
> On Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM, Daniel Almar de Sneijder
> <dasneijder@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hello STATA,
>>
>> First of all, my initial guess is that the computed standard deviation in
>> STATA does not correct for possible biases. However I am not sure as I
>> havent found any good documentation on this issue. My questions are:
>>
>> 1. Does anybody know whether the standard deviations, computed with the
>> command summarize, are unbiased?
>>
>> 2. If so, how can I correct for this?
*
*   For searches and help try:
*   http://www.stata.com/help.cgi?search
*   http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/resources/statalist-faq/
*   http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/
```