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Uniform distribution (discrete)

In probability theory and statistics, the discrete uniThe sample maximum plus the average gap
form distribution is a symmetric probability distribubetween observations in the sample,
tion whereby a nite number of values are equally likely
to be observed; every one of n values has equal probability 1/n. Another way of saying discrete uniform distri- the gap being added to compensate for the negative bias of
maximum as an estimator for the population
bution would be a known, nite number of outcomes the sample[notes
equally likely to happen.
A simple example of the discrete uniform distribution is This has a variance of
throwing a fair die. The possible values are 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, and each time the die is thrown the probability of a
given score is 1/6. If two dice are thrown and their values added, the resulting distribution is no longer uniform
since not all sums have equal probability.

1 (N k)(N + 1)
2 samples small for k N
(k + 2)
so a standard deviation of approximately Nk , the (population) average size of a gap between samples; compare
k above.

The discrete uniform distribution itself is inherently nonparametric. It is convenient, however, to represent its values generally by an integer interval [a,b], so that a,b become the main parameters of the distribution (often one
simply considers the interval [1,n] with the single parameter n). With these conventions, the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the discrete uniform distribution
can be expressed, for any k [a,b], as

F (k; a, b) =

The sample maximum is the maximum likelihood estimator for the population maximum, but, as discussed
above, it is biased.
If samples are not numbered but are recognizable or
markable, one can instead estimate population size via
the capture-recapture method.

k a + 1

2 Random permutation

Estimation of maximum

Main article: Random permutation

Main article: German tank problem

See rencontres numbers for an account of the probability

distribution of the number of xed points of a uniformly
This example is described by saying that a sample of k ob- distributed random permutation.
servations is obtained from a uniform distribution on the
integers 1, 2, . . . , N , with the problem being to estimate
the unknown maximum N. This problem is commonly
known as the German tank problem, following the appli- 3 See also
cation of maximum estimation to estimates of German
tank production during World War II.
Delta distribution
The UMVU estimator for the maximum is given by
Uniform distribution (continuous)
= k + 1m 1 = m + m 1

4 Notes

where m is the sample maximum and k is the sample size,

sampling without replacement.[1][2] This can be seen as a
very simple case of maximum spacing estimation.

[1] The sample maximum is never more than the population

maximum, but can be less, hence it is a biased estimator:
it will tend to underestimate the population maximum.

The formula may be understood intuitively as:



[1] Johnson, Roger (1994), Estimating the Size of a

Population, Teaching Statistics 16 (2 (Summer)),
doi:10.1111/j.1467-9639.1994.tb00688.x External link
in |journal= (help)
[2] Johnson, Roger (2006), Estimating the Size of a Population (PDF), Getting the Best from Teaching Statistics


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