Skip to Content
OpenStax Logo
Buy book
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Sampling and Data
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 Definitions of Statistics, Probability, and Key Terms
    3. 1.2 Data, Sampling, and Variation in Data and Sampling
    4. 1.3 Levels of Measurement
    5. 1.4 Experimental Design and Ethics
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Homework
    9. References
    10. Solutions
  3. 2 Descriptive Statistics
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Display Data
    3. 2.2 Measures of the Location of the Data
    4. 2.3 Measures of the Center of the Data
    5. 2.4 Sigma Notation and Calculating the Arithmetic Mean
    6. 2.5 Geometric Mean
    7. 2.6 Skewness and the Mean, Median, and Mode
    8. 2.7 Measures of the Spread of the Data
    9. Key Terms
    10. Chapter Review
    11. Formula Review
    12. Practice
    13. Homework
    14. Bringing It Together: Homework
    15. References
    16. Solutions
  4. 3 Probability Topics
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Terminology
    3. 3.2 Independent and Mutually Exclusive Events
    4. 3.3 Two Basic Rules of Probability
    5. 3.4 Contingency Tables and Probability Trees
    6. 3.5 Venn Diagrams
    7. Key Terms
    8. Chapter Review
    9. Formula Review
    10. Practice
    11. Bringing It Together: Practice
    12. Homework
    13. Bringing It Together: Homework
    14. References
    15. Solutions
  5. 4 Discrete Random Variables
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Hypergeometric Distribution
    3. 4.2 Binomial Distribution
    4. 4.3 Geometric Distribution
    5. 4.4 Poisson Distribution
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Formula Review
    9. Practice
    10. Homework
    11. References
    12. Solutions
  6. 5 Continuous Random Variables
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Properties of Continuous Probability Density Functions
    3. 5.2 The Uniform Distribution
    4. 5.3 The Exponential Distribution
    5. Key Terms
    6. Chapter Review
    7. Formula Review
    8. Practice
    9. Homework
    10. References
    11. Solutions
  7. 6 The Normal Distribution
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Standard Normal Distribution
    3. 6.2 Using the Normal Distribution
    4. 6.3 Estimating the Binomial with the Normal Distribution
    5. Key Terms
    6. Chapter Review
    7. Formula Review
    8. Practice
    9. Homework
    10. References
    11. Solutions
  8. 7 The Central Limit Theorem
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 The Central Limit Theorem for Sample Means
    3. 7.2 Using the Central Limit Theorem
    4. 7.3 The Central Limit Theorem for Proportions
    5. 7.4 Finite Population Correction Factor
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Formula Review
    9. Practice
    10. Homework
    11. References
    12. Solutions
  9. 8 Confidence Intervals
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 A Confidence Interval for a Population Standard Deviation, Known or Large Sample Size
    3. 8.2 A Confidence Interval for a Population Standard Deviation Unknown, Small Sample Case
    4. 8.3 A Confidence Interval for A Population Proportion
    5. 8.4 Calculating the Sample Size n: Continuous and Binary Random Variables
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Formula Review
    9. Practice
    10. Homework
    11. References
    12. Solutions
  10. 9 Hypothesis Testing with One Sample
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Null and Alternative Hypotheses
    3. 9.2 Outcomes and the Type I and Type II Errors
    4. 9.3 Distribution Needed for Hypothesis Testing
    5. 9.4 Full Hypothesis Test Examples
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Formula Review
    9. Practice
    10. Homework
    11. References
    12. Solutions
  11. 10 Hypothesis Testing with Two Samples
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Comparing Two Independent Population Means
    3. 10.2 Cohen's Standards for Small, Medium, and Large Effect Sizes
    4. 10.3 Test for Differences in Means: Assuming Equal Population Variances
    5. 10.4 Comparing Two Independent Population Proportions
    6. 10.5 Two Population Means with Known Standard Deviations
    7. 10.6 Matched or Paired Samples
    8. Key Terms
    9. Chapter Review
    10. Formula Review
    11. Practice
    12. Homework
    13. Bringing It Together: Homework
    14. References
    15. Solutions
  12. 11 The Chi-Square Distribution
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 Facts About the Chi-Square Distribution
    3. 11.2 Test of a Single Variance
    4. 11.3 Goodness-of-Fit Test
    5. 11.4 Test of Independence
    6. 11.5 Test for Homogeneity
    7. 11.6 Comparison of the Chi-Square Tests
    8. Key Terms
    9. Chapter Review
    10. Formula Review
    11. Practice
    12. Homework
    13. Bringing It Together: Homework
    14. References
    15. Solutions
  13. 12 F Distribution and One-Way ANOVA
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Test of Two Variances
    3. 12.2 One-Way ANOVA
    4. 12.3 The F Distribution and the F-Ratio
    5. 12.4 Facts About the F Distribution
    6. Key Terms
    7. Chapter Review
    8. Formula Review
    9. Practice
    10. Homework
    11. References
    12. Solutions
  14. 13 Linear Regression and Correlation
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 The Correlation Coefficient r
    3. 13.2 Testing the Significance of the Correlation Coefficient
    4. 13.3 Linear Equations
    5. 13.4 The Regression Equation
    6. 13.5 Interpretation of Regression Coefficients: Elasticity and Logarithmic Transformation
    7. 13.6 Predicting with a Regression Equation
    8. 13.7 How to Use Microsoft Excel® for Regression Analysis
    9. Key Terms
    10. Chapter Review
    11. Practice
    12. Solutions
  15. A | Statistical Tables
  16. B | Mathematical Phrases, Symbols, and Formulas
  17. Index
This photo shows many different pairs of shoes in various colors. The shoes appear to be hanging from a wall by cords.
Figure 6.1 If you ask enough people about their shoe size, you will find that your graphed data is shaped like a bell curve and can be described as normally distributed. (credit: Ömer Ünlϋ)

The normal probability density function, a continuous distribution, is the most important of all the distributions. It is widely used and even more widely abused. Its graph is bell-shaped. You see the bell curve in almost all disciplines. Some of these include psychology, business, economics, the sciences, nursing, and, of course, mathematics. Some of your instructors may use the normal distribution to help determine your grade. Most IQ scores are normally distributed. Often real-estate prices fit a normal distribution.

The normal distribution is extremely important, but it cannot be applied to everything in the real world. Remember here that we are still talking about the distribution of population data. This is a discussion of probability and thus it is the population data that may be normally distributed, and if it is, then this is how we can find probabilities of specific events just as we did for population data that may be binomially distributed or Poisson distributed. This caution is here because in the next chapter we will see that the normal distribution describes something very different from raw data and forms the foundation of inferential statistics.

The normal distribution has two parameters (two numerical descriptive measures): the mean (μ) and the standard deviation (σ). If X is a quantity to be measured that has a normal distribution with mean (μ) and standard deviation (σ), we designate this by writing the following formula of the normal probability density function:

This is a frequency curve for a normal distribution. It shows a single peak in the center with the curve tapering down to the horizontal axis on each side. The distribution is symmetrical; it represents the random variable X having a normal distribution with a mean, m, and standard deviation, s.
Figure 6.2

The probability density function is a rather complicated function. Do not memorize it. It is not necessary.

f(x)= 1 σ 2π    e 1 2 ( xμ σ ) 2 f(x)= 1 σ 2π    e 1 2 ( xμ σ ) 2

The curve is symmetric about a vertical line drawn through the mean, μ. The mean is the same as the median, which is the same as the mode, because the graph is symmetric about μ. As the notation indicates, the normal distribution depends only on the mean and the standard deviation. Note that this is unlike several probability density functions we have already studied, such as the Poisson, where the mean is equal to μμ and the standard deviation simply the square root of the mean, or the binomial, where p is used to determine both the mean and standard deviation. Since the area under the curve must equal one, a change in the standard deviation, σ, causes a change in the shape of the normal curve; the curve becomes fatter and wider or skinnier and taller depending on σ. A change in μ causes the graph to shift to the left or right. This means there are an infinite number of normal probability distributions. One of special interest is called the standard normal distribution.

Citation/Attribution

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book is Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introductory-business-statistics/pages/1-introduction
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introductory-business-statistics/pages/1-introduction
Citation information

© Nov 29, 2017 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.