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Concept# Confidence distribution

Summary

In statistical inference, the concept of a confidence distribution (CD) has often been loosely referred to as a distribution function on the parameter space that can represent confidence intervals of all levels for a parameter of interest. Historically, it has typically been constructed by inverting the upper limits of lower sided confidence intervals of all levels, and it was also commonly associated with a fiducial interpretation (fiducial distribution), although it is a purely frequentist concept. A confidence distribution is NOT a probability distribution function of the parameter of interest, but may still be a function useful for making inferences.
In recent years, there has been a surge of renewed interest in confidence distributions. In the more recent developments, the concept of confidence distribution has emerged as a purely frequentist concept, without any fiducial interpretation or reasoning. Conceptually, a confidence distribution is no different from a point estimator or an interval estimator (confidence interval), but it uses a sample-dependent distribution function on the parameter space (instead of a point or an interval) to estimate the parameter of interest.
A simple example of a confidence distribution, that has been broadly used in statistical practice, is a bootstrap distribution. The development and interpretation of a bootstrap distribution does not involve any fiducial reasoning; the same is true for the concept of a confidence distribution. But the notion of confidence distribution is much broader than that of a bootstrap distribution. In particular, recent research suggests that it encompasses and unifies a wide range of examples, from regular parametric cases (including most examples of the classical development of Fisher's fiducial distribution) to bootstrap distributions, p-value functions, normalized likelihood functions and, in some cases, Bayesian priors and Bayesian posteriors.

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Confidence interval

In frequentist statistics, a confidence interval (CI) is a range of estimates for an unknown parameter. A confidence interval is computed at a designated confidence level; the 95% confidence level is most common, but other levels, such as 90% or 99%, are sometimes used. The confidence level, degree of confidence or confidence coefficient represents the long-run proportion of CIs (at the given confidence level) that theoretically contain the true value of the parameter; this is tantamount to the nominal coverage probability.

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In probability theory and statistics, the multivariate normal distribution, multivariate Gaussian distribution, or joint normal distribution is a generalization of the one-dimensional (univariate) normal distribution to higher dimensions. One definition is that a random vector is said to be k-variate normally distributed if every linear combination of its k components has a univariate normal distribution. Its importance derives mainly from the multivariate central limit theorem.

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