Exploratory Data Analysis
1.3. EDA Techniques
1.3.3. Graphical Techniques: Alphabetic
|Symmetric Histogram with Outlier
|Discussion of Outliers
The above is a histogram of
the ZARR13.DAT data set
with four values of 9.45 added.
A symmetric distribution is one in which the 2 "halves" of the histogram appear as mirror-images of one another. The above example is symmetric with the exception of outlying data near Y = 4.5.
An outlier is a data point that comes from a distribution different (in location, scale, or distributional form) from the bulk of the data. In the real world, outliers have a range of causes, from as simple as
|Outliers Should be Investigated
All outliers should be taken seriously and should be investigated
thoroughly for explanations. Automatic outlier-rejection schemes
(such as throw out all data beyond 4 sample standard deviations
from the sample mean) are particularly dangerous.
The classic case of automatic outlier rejection becoming automatic information rejection was the South Pole ozone depletion problem. Ozone depletion over the South Pole would have been detected years earlier except for the fact that the satellite data recording the low ozone readings had outlier-rejection code that automatically screened out the "outliers" (that is, the low ozone readings) before the analysis was conducted. Such inadvertent (and incorrect) purging went on for years. It was not until ground-based South Pole readings started detecting low ozone readings that someone decided to double-check as to why the satellite had not picked up this fact--it had, but it had gotten thrown out!
The best attitude is that outliers are our "friends", outliers are trying to tell us something, and we should not stop until we are comfortable in the explanation for each outlier.
|Recommended Next Steps
If the histogram shows the presence of outliers, the recommended next