Statistics Dictionary

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Confidence Interval

Statisticians use a confidence interval to express the degree of uncertainty associated with a sample statistic. A confidence interval is an interval estimate combined with a probability statement.

For example, suppose a statistician conducted a survey and computed an interval estimate, based on survey data. The statistician might use a confidence level to describe uncertainty associated with the interval estimate. He/she might describe the interval estimate as a "95% confidence interval". This means that if we used the same sampling method to select different samples and computed an interval estimate for each sample, we would expect the true population parameter to fall within the interval estimates 95% of the time.

Confidence intervals are preferred to point estimates and to interval estimates, because only confidence intervals indicate (a) the precision of the estimate and (b) the uncertainty of the estimate.

See also:   Statistics Tutorial: Confidence Interval | Statistics Tutorial: Estimation Problems