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From "Phil Steitz (Commented) (JIRA)" <>
Subject [jira] [Commented] (MATH-692) Cumulative probability and inverse cumulative probability inconsistencies
Date Thu, 20 Oct 2011 01:14:10 GMT


Phil Steitz commented on MATH-692:

Thanks for raising this issue, Christian - especially now as we finalize the 3.0 API.

I am +1 for these changes.  I agree that the inf-based definition of inverse cum is more standard
and we are in a position now make the change, so I say lets do it.  I am also +1 on the move
of this up to the distribution interface.  The reason we did not include it there originally
was that we thought we might implement distributions for which we could not define inverses.
 That has not happened in the last 8 years, so I think its safe enough to push it up.

The code, test, user guide and doc changes for this have to be done carefully.  Patches most

Is everyone else OK with this change?
> Cumulative probability and inverse cumulative probability inconsistencies
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>                 Key: MATH-692
>                 URL:
>             Project: Commons Math
>          Issue Type: Bug
>    Affects Versions: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1, 3.0
>            Reporter: Christian Winter
>            Priority: Minor
>             Fix For: 3.0
> There are some inconsistencies in the documentation and implementation of functions regarding
cumulative probabilities and inverse cumulative probabilities. More precisely, '<' and
'<=' are not used in a consistent way.
> Besides I would move the function inverseCumulativeProbability(double) to the interface
Distribution. A true inverse of the distribution function does neither exist for Distribution
nor for ContinuosDistribution. Thus we need to define the inverse in terms of quantiles anyway,
and this can already be done for Distribution.
> On the whole I would declare the (inverse) cumulative probability functions in the basic
distribution interfaces as follows:
> Distribution:
> - cumulativeProbability(double x): returns P(X <= x)
> - cumulativeProbability(double x0, double x1): returns P(x0 < X <= x1) [see also
> - inverseCumulativeProbability(double p):
>   returns the quantile function inf{x in R | P(X<=x) >= p} [see also 2), 3), and
> 1) An aternative definition could be P(x0 <= X <= x1). But this requires to put
the function probability(double x) or another cumulative probability function into the interface
Distribution in order be able to calculate P(x0 <= X <= x1) in AbstractDistribution.
> 2) This definition is stricter than the definition in ContinuousDistribution, because
the definition there does not specify what to do if there are multiple x satisfying P(X<=x)
= p.
> 3) A modification could be defined for p=0: Returning sup{x in R | P(X<=x) = 0} would
yield the infimum of the distribution's support instead of a mandatory -infinity.
> 4) This affects issue MATH-540. I'd prefere the definition from above for the following
> - This definition simplifies inverse transform sampling (as mentioned in the other issue).
> - It is the standard textbook definition for the quantile function.
> - For integer distributions it has the advantage that the result doesn't change when
switching to "x in Z", i.e. the result is independent of considering the intergers as sole
set or as part of the reals.
> ContinuousDistribution:
> nothing to be added regarding (inverse) cumulative probability functions
> IntegerDistribution:
> - cumulativeProbability(int x): returns P(X <= x)
> - cumulativeProbability(int x0, int x1): returns P(x0 < X <= x1) [see also 1) above]

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