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Concept# Median absolute deviation

Summary

In statistics, the median absolute deviation (MAD) is a robust measure of the variability of a univariate sample of quantitative data. It can also refer to the population parameter that is estimated by the MAD calculated from a sample.
For a univariate data set X1, X2, ..., Xn, the MAD is defined as the median of the absolute deviations from the data's median :
that is, starting with the residuals (deviations) from the data's median, the MAD is the median of their absolute values.
Consider the data (1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 6, 9). It has a median value of 2. The absolute deviations about 2 are (1, 1, 0, 0, 2, 4, 7) which in turn have a median value of 1 (because the sorted absolute deviations are (0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 4, 7)). So the median absolute deviation for this data is 1.
The median absolute deviation is a measure of statistical dispersion. Moreover, the MAD is a robust statistic, being more resilient to outliers in a data set than the standard deviation. In the standard deviation, the distances from the mean are squared, so large deviations are weighted more heavily, and thus outliers can heavily influence it. In the MAD, the deviations of a small number of outliers are irrelevant.
Because the MAD is a more robust estimator of scale than the sample variance or standard deviation, it works better with distributions without a mean or variance, such as the Cauchy distribution.
The MAD may be used similarly to how one would use the deviation for the average.
In order to use the MAD as a consistent estimator for the estimation of the standard deviation , one takes
where is a constant scale factor, which depends on the distribution.
For normally distributed data is taken to be
i.e., the reciprocal of the quantile function (also known as the inverse of the cumulative distribution function) for the standard normal distribution .
The argument 3/4 is such that covers 50% (between 1/4 and 3/4) of the standard normal cumulative distribution function, i.e.
Therefore, we must have that
Noticing that
we have that , from which we obtain the scale factor .

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In statistics, dispersion (also called variability, scatter, or spread) is the extent to which a distribution is stretched or squeezed. Common examples of measures of statistical dispersion are the variance, standard deviation, and interquartile range. For instance, when the variance of data in a set is large, the data is widely scattered. On the other hand, when the variance is small, the data in the set is clustered. Dispersion is contrasted with location or central tendency, and together they are the most used properties of distributions.

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In mathematics and statistics, deviation is a measure of difference between the observed value of a variable and some other value, often that variable's mean. The sign of the deviation reports the direction of that difference (the deviation is positive when the observed value exceeds the reference value). The magnitude of the value indicates the size of the difference. Errors and residuals A deviation that is a difference between an observed value and the true value of a quantity of interest (where true value denotes the Expected Value, such as the population mean) is an error.

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