 Open Journal of Statistics, 2012, 2, 204-207 http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojs.2012.22024 Published Online April 2012 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ojs) Approximate Confidence Interval for the Mean of Poisson Distribution Manad Khamkong Department of Statistics, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand Email: manad.k@cmu.ac.th Received February 19, 2012; revised March 20, 2012; accepted April 5, 2012 ABSTRACT A Poisson distribution is well used as a standard model for analyzing count data. Most of the usual constructing confi- dence intervals are based on an asymptotic approximation to the distribution of the sample mean by using the Wald in- terval. That is, the Wald interval has poor performance in terms of coverage probabilities and average widths interval for small means and small to moderate sample sizes. In this paper, an approximate confidence interval for a Poisson mean is proposed and is based on an empirically determined the tail probabilities. Simulation results show that the pro- posed interval outperforms the others when small means and small to moderate sample sizes. Keywords: Confidence Interval; Coverage Probability; Poisson Distribution; Expected Width; Wald Interval 1. Introduction In many applications, the variable of interest is given in the form of an event count or a non-negative integer value which refers to the number of a occurrences of particular phenomenon over a fixed set of time, distance, area or space. Some examples of such data are number of road accident victims per week, number of cases with a specific disease in epidemiology, etc. Poisson distribu- tion is a standard and good model for analyzing count data and it seems to be the most common and frequently used as well. It is very interesting to construct a confidence interval for a Poisson mean. Suppose 12 n is a random sample of size n from a Poisson (X,X ,,X0) distribution. A problem in finding an exact 1 two-sided confidence interval for mean ( ,UXLX) of Poissonity is given by LU2,2LXPX xUXPX x (1) where Land U are, respectively, the lower and up- per endpoints of the confidence interval. Let n1ii1Xn X ˆ is the maximum likelihood es- timator of . As n large by central limit theorem, the Wald interval for the mean is given by 2XXz n, (2) where 2z is the (12)100th percentile of the stan- dard normal distribution. The Wald interval with conti- nuity correction interval (WCC) uses a normal distribu- tion to approximate a Poisson distribution is defined as 2X0.5Xz n, (3) Several methods have been proposed to construct a confidence interval for a Poisson mean such as Cai , Byrne and Kabaila , Guan , Krishnamoorthy and Peng , Stamey and Hamillton , Swifi  and others. Guan  has suggested that the score interval (SC) is the uppermost approximation on interval estimation of a Poisson mean for moderate  is given by 22222zXz4nXz2n n (4) and he has also proposed the moved score confidence interval (MSC) as follows, 22222zX0.46z 4nXznn (5) Barker  has recommended the exact confidence in- terval outperform but not explicit closed form and was computed difficult. In particular, the Wald interval with continuity correction interval (WCC) achieves coverage probabilities quite faster than the Wald interval. However, The WCC is known to perform poorly for small to mod- Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJS M. KHAMKONG 205erate sample sizes. This paper interested in estimating the tail probabilities of the Wald interval that view be propose in the next sec- tion. The third section, the empirical results of the simu- lation studies are illustrated by the examples. Some con- cluding remarks appear in the last section. 2. Proposed Confidence Interval The basic idea improvement on the Wald interval is be- ing that the confidence interval should add the tail prob- bilities for small sample size adjusted by 22zc2nX,X ,,X. Let 12 n be independent and identically distributed random variables of size n selected from a Poisson dis- tribution with mean  and 22z2nc. Then 1) EXcc and 1c nVX (6) 2) DnX cN0, 1n as (7) According to Equation (7), it is appropriated to pro- posed an approximate confidence interval for a Poisson mean, called adding the tail probability of the Wald in- terval (AWC) as follows, 222Xz2n nzX (8) For any nominal (1)100% confidence interval for mean (), the coverage probability at a fixed value of  is given by  iUiei!Lii0CP II (9) where {} is the indicator function of the bracketed event. Similarly the expected width of any confidence interval is  ieL ii!i0EW U i0.95 (10) 3. Empirical Results This section presents some selected empirical results for comparing the performance of the aforementioned con- fidence intervals for mean of Poisson distribution. The proposed confidence interval, AWC, will be compared with the other 3 intervals namely score interval (SC), the moved score confidence interval (MSC) and the Wald interval with continuity correction interval (WCC). The estimated coverage probabilities and the average widths of these intervals are evaluated by a Monte Carlo simula- tion using 50,000 replications for small to moderate sample sizes, n = 15, 25, 50, 100 and the confidence interval level to be considered is 95% (1 ), provided by the statistical package R . For each sam- ple is drawn from a Poisson distribution with mean pa- rameter  = 1, 1.5, 3, 5, 10. 3.1. Simulation Results The simulation results are reported in Table 1. All con- fidence intervals can control the coverage probabilities to be close enough to the 0.95 level except WCC can achieve coverage greater than nominal level for most values of . While an approximated confidence interval having some of coverage probabilities less than the nominal level when small means,  = 1, 1.5 and small to moderate sample sizes, n = 15, 25, 50. The proposed interval (AWC) outperforms the others in terms of the maintain coverage probabilities and the average widths shorter than those of the other confidence intervals. 3.2. Examples An example 1: numbers of sparrow nests found in one hectare area, n = 40 areas of Zar (quoted in Gürtler and Henze ). No. of nests: 0 1 2 3 4 Frequency: 9 22 6 2 1 The sample mean and variance are 1.1 and 0.8103, re- spectively. Estimated tail probability is 0.0480. That is, 95% AWC confidence interval of the average sparrow nests found in one hectare area is between 0.823 and 1.473 and the average width is 0.65. An example 2: the annual number of serious earth- quakes over a period of 75 years (1903-1977, quoted in Blaesild and Granfeldt ). An earthquake is consid-ered serious if its magnitude is at least 7.5 on the Richter scale or if more than 100 people were killed. No. of serious earthquakes: 0 1 2 3 4 Frequency: 31 28 14 1 1 The sample mean and variance are 0.84 and 0.7578, respectively. Therefore, 95% AWC confidence interval of the average number of serious earthquakes per year is between 0.6582 and 1.0730 (c = 0.0256 and ˆEWˆ = 0.4148). 4. Concluding Remarks In the past, the standard method intervals such as the score interval (SC) and the Wald interval with continuity correction interval (WCC) based on normal approxima- tions, are both outperformed for moderate parameter mean and the sample size should be large enough [2,3,5, 7]. In this paper, the proposed alternative interval based n estimate tail probability, is called AWC interval. o Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJS M. KHAMKONG Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJS 206 Table 1. Estimated 95% coverage probabilities and average widths for poisson means. Estimated Coverage Probability Estimated Average Width n Mean (λ) SC MSC WCC AWC SC MSC WCC AWC 15 1 0.9494 0.9494 0.9801 0.9494 0.9804 0.9804 1.2142 0.9494 1.5 0.9423 0.9423 0.9718 0.9423 1.1844 1.1844 1.3914 1.1594 3 0.9570 0.9570 0.9646 0.9570 1.6898 1.6898 1.8277 1.6719 5 0.9436 0.9512 0.9527 0.9436 2.1442 2.1634 2.2629 2.1305 10 0.9551 0.9510 0.9530 0.9461 3.0635 3.0513 3.1269 3.0247 25 1 0.9437 0.9437 0.9847 0.9437 0.7489 0.7489 0.9451 0.7347 1.5 0.9508 0.9508 0.9734 0.9508 0.9209 0.9209 1.0797 0.9091 3 0.9433 0.9502 0.9640 0.9433 1.2864 1.2968 1.4146 1.2782 5 0.9477 0.9530 0.9612 0.9477 1.6660 1.6761 1.7677 1.6596 10 0.9476 0.9511 0.9534 0.9476 2.3517 2.3611 2.4221 2.3472 50 1 0.9454 0.9535 0.9853 0.9454 0.5275 0.5326 0.6689 0.5224 1.5 0.9450 0.9514 0.9738 0.9450 0.6444 0.6492 0.7637 0.6403 3 0.9554 0.9508 0.9655 0.9459 0.9192 0.9151 1.0012 0.9071 5 0.9473 0.9509 0.9600 0.9473 1.1757 1.1804 1.2482 1.1734 10 0.9490 0.9490 0.9560 0.9490 1.6647 1.6647 1.7173 1.6631 100 1 0.9510 0.9510 0.9861 0.9510 0.3741 0.3741 0.4735 0.3723 1.5 0.9571 0.9522 0.9764 0.9475 0.4603 0.4582 0.5412 0.4543 3 0.9471 0.9506 0.9648 0.9471 0.6438 0.6463 0.7077 0.6428 5 0.9489 0.9489 0.9602 0.9489 0.8324 0.8324 0.8828 0.8316 10 0.9475 0.9491 0.9541 0.9475 1.1750 1.1770 1.2120 1.1744 From the simulation results (Table 1), the estimated 95% coverage probabilities of AWC close to the nominal level in all cases and are similar to the SC and MSC interval. Morever, in many cases of small mean and small to mod- erate sample sizes such as  = 1, 1.5 and n = 15, 25, AWC seems to be preferable in the sence that their average width is shorter than others. However, when the mean and sample size are both increase, the average widths AWC interval are similar to other confidence in- tervals. Therefore, it can be recommended that the AWC in- terval is more likely to be outperformed for small mean Poisson and small to moderate sample sizes. In addition, the AWC formula is simple and easy to compute. It should be considered that a sample observation is drawn from a Poisson distribution. REFERENCES  T. T. Cai, “One-Sided Confidence Intervals in Discrete Distributions,” Journal of Statistical Planning and In- ference, Vol. 131, No. 1, 2005, pp. 63-88. doi:10.1016/j.jspi.2004.01.005  J. Byrneand and P. 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