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A basic concept which may be taken either as indefinable, expressing in some way a “degree of belief”, or as the limiting frequency in an infinite random series. Both approaches have their difficulties and the most convenient axiomatisation of probability theory is a matter of personal taste. Fortunately, both lead to much the same calculus of probabilities.

A probability is similar to a rate, the difference being that the denominator comprises all those objects in a given population at the beginning of the period of observation.

For example: If 10 people die in one year out of a population of 1 000 at the start of a year, the probability of dying during that year was 10/1 000, or 0.01000.

Palmore, James A., Gardner, Robert W., 1994, Measuring mortality, fertility and natural increase: a self-teaching guide to elementary measures, Rev. ed., East-West Centre, Honolulu, Hawaii

Source Publication:
A Dictionary of Statistical Terms, 5th edition, prepared for the International Statistical Institute by F.H.C. Marriott. Published for the International Statistical Institute by Longman Scientific and Technical.

Statistical Theme: Methodological information (metadata)

Created on Thursday, May 23, 2002

Last updated on Wednesday, January 4, 2006