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```CONFIDENCE INTERVAL FOR MEAN WITH KNOWN σ – choice of
the sample size for a given margin of error.
Let X1 , X 2 ,
, Xn
sample from N(μ, σ), μ unknown, σ known.
The margin of error m= half-length of the CI for μ, m = z /2 / n depends on:

the confidence level via z /2 (as conf. level

the variability in the population σ (as σ

the sample size (as n
,m
,m
,m
);
);
).
To decrease the error, but keep the confidence level unchanged, we need to
increase the sample size.
z2 /2 2
m  z /2 / n or n 
.
2
m
For a (1-α) CI for μ (σ known) to have margin of error m, we need sample
size
z2  2
n
 /2
m
2
.
Example
Suppose X1 , X 2 ,
, Xn
are heights from a normal distribution with
σ=10’’. In a sample of size 16 we obtained X  60 '' .
a) Find a 95% confidence interval for μ. What is its margin of error?
b) Find the sample size needed for the margin of error to be 3 inches.
Solution. σ =10’’, n=16, m=3.
a) C = 0.95, so α = 0.05, so zα/2=1.96. 95% CI for the mean (sampling from
normal distribution) is:
( X  1.96 / n, X  1.96 / n ) =(60 +/-1.96(10)/√16) = (55.1, 64.9).
Margin of error=(64.9 - 55.1)/2 = 4.9.
z2 /2 2 1.962102  1.96 10 
n


  42.68. Finally, n = 43.
2
2
m
3
3


2
b)
We need a larger sample size to get smaller error, with the same confidence
level.
CONFIDENCE INTERVAL FOR MEAN WITH UNKNOWN σ
If the population variance σ is unknown, estimate is using the sample
variance S:
n
1
2
2
S 
 xi  x  .

n  1 i 1
Then, replace σ with S in the Z-statistic used for the confidence
interval:
Get t-statistic:
X 
t
.
S/ n
The t-statistic does not have standard normal distribution.
It has a t distribution with (n-1) degrees of freedom. The number of
degrees of freedom is a parameter of the t distribution.
NOTE. T-distribution is also called “Student’s t distribution”.
T-distribution
0.4
T-distribution has similarities and differences with standard Normal
distribution: symmetric around zero, but it has fatter (heavier) tails.
As degrees of freedom
increase, t distribution
becomes
indistinguishable from
standard normal. See
last row of t- table (back
cover of text book).
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
st.normal
t df=8
t df=2
-4
-2
0
2
4
CONFIDENCE INTERVAL FOR MEAN WITH UNKNOWN σ
Following a procedure similar to the one for constructing CI for μ when σ
was known, when data was from a normal population, we can find a CI
for μ when σ is not known. We replace σ with S and standard normal
percentiles with percentiles from t distribution.
Let X1 , X 2 , , X n be observations from a normal distribution with mean
μ and standard deviation σ, both μ and σ unknown.
A C=(1-α) confidence interval for μ is given by
X  t /2 S / n
when the data is from a normal population with σ unknown.
Here tα/2 satisfies P(t(n-1)>tα/2 )=α/2, i.e. tα/2 is a percentile from t(n-1)
distribution.
We use t-table or a statistical computer package (e.g. MINTAB) to find
percentiles of t-distribution: tα/2.
EXAMPLE
A biologist studying brain weights of tigers took a random sample of 16
animals and measured their brain weights in ounces. This data gave a
sample mean of 10 and standard deviation of 3.2 ounces. Assuming that
these weights follow a Normal distribution, find a 95% confidence interval
for the true mean tiger brain weight μ.
Solution.
x =10, s=3.2, n=16, need 95%CI for μ.
C=0.95, so α=0.05, so α/2=0.025. Since n=16, then n-1=15.
We need t(15)0.025. From the table t(15)0.025=2.131, so the 95% CI for μ is:
10+/- 2.131 (3.2)/√16 = (8.295, 11.705) oz.
We are 95% confident that the true mean weight of a tiger brain is between
8.295 and 11.705 oz.
MINITAB EXAMPLES. EXAMPLE 1
A graduate class in probability theory was running in a university for several
years. The professor wanted to estimate the average final exam results.
She took a sample of 25 exams. Find a 90% CI for the true mean final
score for this course.
Solution: I used MINITAB (data available on class web site probs.xls). We
do not know population st. deviation, so we need to use t-distribution to
get CI.
MINITAB output in the “Session” window
T Confidence Intervals
Variable N
score
25
Mean StDev SE Mean
90.0 % CI
84.68 5.72 1.14
( 82.72, 86.64)
In the output: SE Mean = estimate of the Standard Error of the Mean
= estimate of    / n  5.72 / 5  1.144.
X
MINITAB EXAMPLES. EXAMPLE 2
A 100 observations was collected on test results for a precalculus class.
Find a 98% confidence interval for the true mean test score for that
class.
Solution. I used MINITAB. (data available on class web site precalc.xls).
T Confidence Intervals
Variable N
Mean StDev SE Mean
98.0 % CI
score
101 69.64 10.99 1.09 ( 67.05, 72.23)
Histogram of score
(with 98% t-confidence interval for the mean)
Answer: The 95% CI for the true
mean score for the precalculus
class is (67.05, 72.23)
Frequency
20
10
0
[
30
40
50
60
_
X
70
score
]
80
90
100
```
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