The Elsmar Cove Business Standards Discussion Forums More Free Files Forum Discussion Thread Post Attachments Listing Elsmar Cove Discussion Forums Main Page
Welcome to what was The Original Cayman Cove Forums!
This thread is carried over and continued in the Current Elsmar Cove Forums

Search the Elsmar Cove!

Wooden Line
This is a "Frozen" Legacy Forum.
Most links on this page do NOT work.
Discussions since 2001 are HERE

Owl Line
The New Elsmar Cove Forums   The New Elsmar Cove Forums
  Statistical Techniques and 6 Sigma
  Poisson/Bi-Nomial Distributions

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

UBBFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Poisson/Bi-Nomial Distributions
Al Dyer
Forum Wizard

Posts: 622
From:Lapeer, MI USA
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 08 May 2001 08:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Al Dyer   Click Here to Email Al Dyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone give the down and dirty difference between bi-nomial and poisson distributions and when they can and should be used?


IP: Logged

Atul Khandekar
Forum Contributor

Posts: 21
From:Pune, India
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 08 May 2001 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Atul Khandekar   Click Here to Email Atul Khandekar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This was taken from Statsoft Home page:

The binomial distribution is useful for describing distributions of binomial events,
such as the number of males and females in a random sample of companies, or
the number of defective components in samples of 20 units taken from a production process.

The Poisson distribution is also sometimes referred to as the distribution of rare events.
Examples of Poisson distributed variables are number of accidents per person,
number of sweepstakes won per person, or the number of catastrophic defects found in a
production process.

For more details, equations etc. go to:

or download the whole textbook from:

[This message has been edited by Atul Khandekar (edited 08 May 2001).]

IP: Logged

Lurker (<10 Posts)

Posts: 4
From:Grand Haven, MI, USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 08 May 2001 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarkR   Click Here to Email MarkR     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll take a shot at this one. Binomial covers every situation, Poisson is an 'easier' approximation that is useful in certain situations. Because Binomial contains the n! term, if n > 69 (n is sample size) many calculators run out of steam trying to calculate such a huge number. Poisson gets around this by not using n!, just k!.

Poisson is appropriate when the sample is very large and the chance of any defect is small. You can prove this to yourself using Excel. Create 3 graphs, one using the binomial with n=200 and p=0.03, another using n=20 and p=0.3, and the third using Poisson np=6. (note that all three of these graphs have the same expected value, 6) If you plot all three on the same axis you will see that the B(200,0.03) curve and the Poisson curve are very similar, but the B(20, 0.3) curve is markedly different.

So which is correct? Binomial is always correct, these graphs just show that Poisson 'approximates' the binomial best when the conditions of large sample and small p are met.

Another useful application for Poisson is when np is known, but not n nor p. For example, a contractor averages 7 new homes every year (np = 7). What is the number of people that could call the contractor (n)? It's huge, but we don't know what it is. What is the probability that any one person in the population that might call wants a house built that year(p)? We don't know, but probably small. But we do know np=7, so we could calculate the probability of the contractor building 6 houses next year, or 8 houses next year.


IP: Logged

Rick Goodson
Forum Wizard

Posts: 102
From:Wuakesha, Wisconsin, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 08 May 2001 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Goodson   Click Here to Email Rick Goodson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

As you requested, down and dirty:

The binomial probability distribution is applicable to discrete problems involving an infinite number of items or a steady stream of items from a work center. It applies to problems where there are attributes such as good/bad, success/failure, yes/no, etc.

The Poisson probability distribution is applicable to problems involving an observation per unit of time such as cars through a toll gate or number of defects in a 1000 square yards of fabric. The Poisson is applicable when the sample size (n) is quite large and the average probability of an event or defect (p') is quite small.

The Poisson distribution is easier to calculate than the binomial and can be used as an approximation to the binomial when p' is equal to or less than 0.10 and np' is equal to or less than 5.

Hope that helps.


IP: Logged

Ken K.
posted 08 May 2001 11:12 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check out

The binomial distribution is usually used for count data and proportion data that involves two states of existance (success or failure). Examples: Number of defects, propportion of satisfied customers, etc..

The poisson is usually used when you are looking at the number of "things" (defects, whatever) observed over some quasi-continuous quanity of sample. Examples: waiting time for defects, defects per xxx square feet of aluminum foil, bubbles per cubic feet of lexan, etc...

Data that involve the number of successes (x) out of some number of trials (n), where the probability of a success, p=x/n, is fixed, is said to follow a Binomial{n,p} distribution. Note that this is a discrete distribution, since x consists of integers falling between 0 and n, inclusive. All proportions follow a binomial distribution. As p becomes small and n becomes large (p<0.01, n>100), the binomial distribution tends to have a nearly continuous, but skewed shape, quite similar to the shape of the Poisson{lambda=p} distribution. As p continues to get smaller and n continues to get larger (np> 15), the binomial distribution appears even more continuous and becomes more symmetric about the mean, approaching the shape of the Normal{mu=p, sigma^2=2p(1-p)/n} distribution.

The word "success" here can mean any condition - it can even mean a defect. In the same way, "failure" just means the other condition.

IP: Logged

Al Dyer
Forum Wizard

Posts: 622
From:Lapeer, MI USA
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 08 May 2001 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Al Dyer   Click Here to Email Al Dyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for your comments,

It's all starting to come back to me now. It's funny when how you don't use something for along time you need a kick in the butt to get re-focused.


IP: Logged

All times are Eastern Standard Time (USA)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Hop to:

Contact Us | The Elsmar Cove Home Page

Your Input Into These Forums Is Appreciated! Thanks!

Main Site Search
Y'All Come Back Now, Ya Hear?
Powered by FreeBSD!Made With A Mac!Powered by Apache!