Point estimate

In statistics, point estimation involves the use of sample data to calculate a single value (known as a statistic) which is to serve as a "best guess" or "best estimate" of an unknown (fixed or random) population parameter.

More formally, it is the application of a point estimator to the data.

In general, point estimation should be contrasted with interval estimation: such interval estimates are typically either confidence intervals in the case of frequentist inference, or credible intervals in the case of Bayesian inference.

Point estimators

Bayesian point-estimation

Bayesian inference is based on the posterior distribution. Many Bayesian point-estimators are the posterior distribution's statistics of central tendency, e.g., its mean, median, or mode:

  • Posterior mean, which minimizes the (posterior) risk (expected loss) for a squared-error loss function; in Bayesian estimation, the risk is defined in terms of the posterior distribution.
  • Posterior median, which minimizes the posterior risk for the absolute-value loss function.
  • maximum a posteriori (MAP), which finds a maximum of the posterior distribution; for a uniform prior probability, the MAP estimator coincides with the maximum-likelihood estimator;

The MAP estimator has good asymptotic properties, even for many difficult problems, on which the maximum-likelihood estimator has difficulties. For regular problems, where the maximum-likelihood estimator is consistent, the maximum-likelihood estimator ultimately agrees with the MAP estimator.[1][2][3] Bayesian estimators are admissible, by Wald's theorem.[4][2]

Special cases of Bayesian estimators are important:

Several methods of computational statistics have close connections with Bayesian analysis:

Properties of point estimates

See also

Statistics portal



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