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Standard Deviation Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:01 AM
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Koen (da-zero) (1/28/2011)

Then why is the explanation confusing? I find it pretty clear...


The explanation is "The denominator of the variance for a sample population is n - 1, resulting in division by zero."

This suggests it should give an error, and doesn't explain why it results in null instead.

I guessed wrong, but I'm not sure what the question was supposed to prove, other than if you apply a function wrongly then you get a meaningless answer!
Post #1055181
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:17 AM


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mdv 9731 (1/28/2011)
I'm not really going to comment on that answer.
Just happy you are not creating any kind of BI og reporting in our company

I might be wrong but i still question the result.
Even if i know that it doesnt make much practical sence to talk deviation on 1 value.


The question was about the result of the query (ergo: what does SQL Server do with it).
Not what is the theoretical result according to statistics. (however, the explanation might be lacking. I'm (luckily) not a statistician)

But don't worry, if I'll do BI or reporting in your company, I will read the requirements thoroughly




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Post #1055188
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:41 AM


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Koen (da-zero) (1/28/2011)
Then why is the explanation confusing? I find it pretty clear...


It is Confusing because in his Query the parameter 1 does not mean that Number of samples.if you put 100 inplace of 1 still it gives the same null. as per his explanation it is not a divide by zero error

The usage of the Function is wrong in the Query.

see if we can use some thing like below it gives 0

SELECT STDEV(1) from sys.objects


Post #1055195
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:48 AM


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sharath.chalamgari (1/28/2011)
Koen (da-zero) (1/28/2011)
Then why is the explanation confusing? I find it pretty clear...


It is Confusing because in his Query the parameter 1 does not mean that Number of samples.if you put 100 inplace of 1 still it gives the same null. as per his explanation it is not a divide by zero error

The usage of the Function is wrong in the Query.

see if we can use some thing like below it gives 0

SELECT STDEV(1) from sys.objects



Allright, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.




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Post #1055198
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:57 AM
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That makes sence.
So its really a matter of SQL Server returning NULL instead of #ERROR not having the correct syntax which obviously means that a FROM clause needs to be included.

So the point proven is more like SQL Server returning a 'value' instead of an error.
And not that it can't calculate (and is has nothing to do with a zero division)

'cause my point was that std. dev. is 0 if calculated on a single value no matter what it is (even if that makes no sence)

Question good, formula good, Microsoft needs to work on documentation
We're all happy

Cheers

Post #1055203
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 6:13 AM
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Division by zero should be ERROR, not null. How come?
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Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 7:24 AM
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Right answer, wrong explanation. The stdev function is simply programmed to return null when the sample size is less than 2. It has nothing to do with division by zero. Division by zero is an invalid calculation not an unknown result. If it were allowed to perform the zero division the proper response of the function should have been to throw an error; instead they trapped the invalid condition and returned a NULL. I would also argue that this is an inaccurate result since it ignores the fact that an invalid data set is being used without returning the appropriate error.
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Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the question, it is good to know that SQL Server decides to return NULL for the standard deviation for a data value, though I don't think it is alone.
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Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 10:12 AM


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What's going on here is that the STDEV() function in T-SQL returns the sample standard deviation (which for a single value will be undefined, hence the programmatically dictated NULL result) rather than the population standard deviation (which for a single value will be 0). BOL does not clearly state this, which apparently causes some confusion. Another T-SQL function, STDEVP(), returns the population standard deviation. Developers using statistical functions in T-SQL definitely should be aware of this!

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Post #1055455
Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 10:24 AM
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Thanks for the explanation wolfkillj! That makes total sense now.
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