# Examples of variances of random variables

## Contents

# Examples of variances of random variables¶

Let’s revisit some of the distributions we encountered in the earlier and calculate their
variances.
We will do it both analytically, and using `scipy.stats`

.

## Example: Variance of a Bernoulli random variable¶

Take a Bernoulli random variable:

We have already found that this expectation is:

To find the variance we are going to use Variance Property 3. For this we need to find the expectation of the square:

So, we have:

And here is how we can do it using `scipy.stats`

:

```
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
%matplotlib inline
import seaborn as sns
sns.set(rc={"figure.dpi":100, 'savefig.dpi':300})
sns.set_context('notebook')
sns.set_style("ticks")
from IPython.display import set_matplotlib_formats
set_matplotlib_formats('retina', 'svg')
import numpy as np
import scipy.stats as st
```

```
theta = 0.7
X = st.bernoulli(theta)
```

Now that we have made the random variable we can get its expectation by `X.var()`

:

```
print('V[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.var()))
print('Compare to theta * (1 - theta) = {0:1.2f}'.format(theta * (1 - theta)))
```

```
V[X] = 0.21
Compare to theta * (1 - theta) = 0.21
```

The standard deviation is just the square root of the variance:

In `scipy.stats`

you can get it by `X.std()`

:

```
print('std of X = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.std()))
```

```
std of X = 0.46
```

## Example: Variance of a uniform random variable¶

Take

Remember that the PDF is:

when \(x\) is in \([a,b]\) and zero otherwise.

We have already found the expectation and it was given by the mid-point between \(a\) and \(b\):

To find the variance, we first need to find the expectation of the square:

You can simplify this even more, but we won’t bother. Now, put everything together:

If you remember your basics mechanics course, this is the second area moment of inertia of a beam about its center of mass. This is not an accident. Mathematically, the variance and the second area moments are exactly the same integrals.

Let’s do it also on `scipy.stats`

:

```
a = 0
b = 5
X = st.uniform(a, b)
print('V[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.var()))
print('Compare to theoretical answer = {0:1.2f}'.format((b - a) ** 2 / 12))
```

```
V[X] = 2.08
Compare to theoretical answer = 2.08
```

## Example: Variance of a Categorical random variable¶

Take a Categorical random variable:

The expectation is:

Again, we are going to invoke Variance Property 3. We need the expectation of the square:

So, we have:

Here is how we can find it with Python:

```
import numpy as np
# The values X can take
xs = np.arange(4)
print('X values: ', xs)
# The probability for each value
ps = np.array([0.1, 0.3, 0.4, 0.2])
print('X probabilities: ', ps)
# And the expectation in a single line
E_X = np.sum(xs * ps)
# The expectation of the square
E_X2 = np.sum(xs ** 2 * ps)
# The variance
V_X = E_X2 - E_X ** 2
print('V[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(V_X))
```

```
X values: [0 1 2 3]
X probabilities: [0.1 0.3 0.4 0.2]
V[X] = 0.81
```

Alternatively, we could use `scipy.stats`

:

```
X = st.rv_discrete(name='X', values=(xs, ps))
print('V[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.var()))
```

```
V[X] = 0.81
```

The standard deviation is:

```
print('std of X = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.std()))
```

```
std of X = 0.90
```

Let’s now make a plot. I am going to plot the the PMF of \(X\) and I am going to mark the position of the expected value along with:

the expected value minus two standard deviations,

the expected value plus two standard deviations.

Let’s see what we get:

```
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
ax.vlines(xs, 0, X.pmf(xs), label='PMF of $X$')
mu = X.expect()
std = X.std()
low = mu - 2 * std
up = mu + 2 * std
ax.plot(mu, 0, 'ro', label='$\mu = \mathbf{E}[X]$')
ax.plot(low, 0, 'gx', label='$\mu - 2\sigma$')
ax.plot(up, 0, 'md', label='$\mu + 2\sigma$')
ax.set_xlabel('$x$')
ax.set_ylabel('$p(x)$')
ax.set_title('Categorical$(0.1, 0.3, 0.4, 0.2)$'.format(theta))
plt.legend(loc='upper left');
```

We see that, in this case, going two standard deviations below the mean and two standard deviations above the mean captures pretty much all the values.

## Example: Variance of a Binomial random variable¶

Take a Binomial random variable:

It is not very easy to find the variance of this one. But it is given by the following formula:

If you notice, it is basically \(n\) times the variance of the Bernoulli. This is not accident. The Binomial is actually the sum of \(n\) independent Bernoulli’s. But we do not know the mathematics to deal with this yet.

Here is how we can get it with `scipy.stats`

:

```
n = 5
theta = 0.6
X = st.binom(n, theta)
print('E[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.var()))
print('Compare to n * theta = {0:1.2f}'.format(n * theta * (1 - theta)))
```

```
E[X] = 1.20
Compare to n * theta = 1.20
```

Let’s plot the same things we plotted for the categorical:

```
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
xs = np.arange(n+1)
ax.vlines(xs, 0, X.pmf(xs), label='PMF of $X$')
mu = X.expect()
std = X.std()
low = mu - 2 * std
up = mu + 2 * std
ax.plot(mu, 0, 'ro', label='$\mu = \mathbf{E}[X]$')
ax.plot(low, 0, 'gx', label='$\mu - 2\sigma$')
ax.plot(up, 0, 'md', label='$\mu + 2\sigma$')
ax.set_xlabel('$x$')
ax.set_ylabel('$p(x)$')
ax.set_title(r'Binomial$(n={0:d}, \theta={1:1.2f})$'.format(n, theta))
plt.legend(loc='upper left');
```

### Questions¶

Rerun the case of the Binomial with \(n=50\). Does the shape of the PMF you get look familiar?

## Example: Variance of a Poisson random variable¶

Take Poisson random variable:

Finding this variance is also non-trival. But it is:

Wait a second!!! Didn’t we say that the variance has the square units of \(X\). If you paid attention the expectation of \(X\) was also \(\lambda\). How is it even possible? Well, it is because \(X\) has no units… It’s just numbers counting events.

Let’s also do it in `scipy.stats`

:

```
lam = 2.0
X = st.poisson(lam)
print('E[X] = {0:1.2f}'.format(X.var()))
```

```
E[X] = 2.00
```

And let’s visualize everything together like before:

```
fig, ax = plt.subplots()
xs = np.arange(X.ppf(0.9999)) # I will explain this later
ax.vlines(xs, 0, X.pmf(xs), label='PMF of $X$')
mu = X.expect()
std = X.std()
low = mu - 2 * std
up = mu + 2 * std
ax.plot(mu, 0, 'ro', label='$\mu = \mathbf{E}[X]$')
ax.plot(low, 0, 'gx', label='$\mu - 2\sigma$')
ax.plot(up, 0, 'md', label='$\mu + 2\sigma$')
ax.set_xlabel('$x$')
ax.set_ylabel('$p(x)$')
ax.set_title(r'Poisson$(\lambda={0:1.2f})$'.format(lam))
plt.legend(loc='upper right');
```

### Question¶

Rerun the case for the Poisson with a rate parameter \(\lambda = 50\). Does the shape look familiar?