Choosing the Best Distribution

Doghouse – Distributions

Article from Issue 248/2021
Author(s):

Which distribution is the best choice for you? It's not an easy question, but maddog offers suggestions for finding the answer.

Almost exactly eight years ago, I wrote an article [1] about why I never answer the question "What distribution do you use?" The reasons are many, but the reason I gave at the time (which is still valid) is that I am a consultant and a writer, and I typically use the distribution that my customers use, not necessarily one of the options that is best tailored for me. Secondly, I recognized that in most cases, the question really being asked was "What distribution should I be using?" Usually I could not answer that either, because I did not know enough about the questioner to give a good answer.

Yesterday in a virtual FLISoL conference, I was asked (again) exactly that same question and gave exactly the same answer. If nothing else, I am consistent.

However I gave very little information in that article about how the questioner should choose their distribution. Also, many things have changed over the past eight years. So in this article I will give some tips for how to choose that first (or 10th or 20th) distribution that you might want to use.

[...]

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