Written By :Appsierra

Wed May 01 2024

5 min read

Types of Probability Distributions Every Data Science Expert Should know

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types of probability distributions

Data scientists come across many terms related to probability while solving problems in interviews and reading research papers. Therefore, knowing the basics of probability and probability distributions is essential for an aspiring data scientist. This knowledge will help Ace interview, understand data better and develop more natural solutions.

Probability Distributions

Firstly let's understand the meaning of experiment, sample space, and event as they are used in statistics and will help us to understand the formal definition of probability. An experiment could be understood as a procedure that can be repeated infinitely and has well-defined analysts and scientists must understand possible outcomes. For example, throwing a coin is an experiment and has two sets of outcomes: heads or tails. The set of different possible outcomes of an experiment is known as sample space which in the stated example will be heads or tails for tossing a coin.

Random variable

A random variable is a function that allocates values to each outcome of an experiment. For example, by tossing a coin we define a random variable x as the event when a head comes. Let's see how this becomes a function.

  • When the output heads, X=1
  • When the output is tails, X=0
  • So p(X=1)= probability of getting head= 1/2
  • And p(X=0)= probability of getting tail= 1/2

Probability Distributions and Their Characteristics

Probability distribution definition is a collection of data points that describe the likelihood of occurrence of an event. It could be either discrete or Continuous. Discrete order is one in which data can only consume certain values while in continuous distribution data can take on any value within a range. This collection of data is then visualized graphically. Every data distribution technique will have different shapes on the graph. So there should be some metrics to help us understand the shape of distribution without actually plotting data on the graph. Metrics which provide information about distribution are mean, variance, and standard deviation. Let's understand each one of them.

  • Mean

It is indicated by the average of the data points. If we have a discrete set of data with the values 1,2,3,4,5, the mean () will be 3 ((1+2+3+4+5)5). It's used to identify the number that, when subtracted from all data points, equals zero, resulting in the average of processed data.

  • Variance

The variance is the square root of the difference between the data point and the mean. 2. is the symbol for it. The variance (2) in the previous case is 2.5 ((1–3)2+(2–3)2+(3–3)2+(4–3)2+(5–3)2)5.

  • Standard Deviation

It is denoted as and is the square root of the variance. The standard deviation () in the given example is 1.58 (sqrt2.5). It is used to determine how evenly distributed the numbers in a dataset are. A low standard deviation indicates that the data points are closer together.

Types of Probability Distribution

Below are the types of probability distribution:

1. Uniform Distribution

We've learned what a probability distribution example is and how to recognize it. Let's look at the uniform probability distribution now. A uniform distribution, often known as a rectangle distribution, is the most basic probability distribution. The probability of this distribution is constant. Tossing a coin or rolling dice are two classic examples of this form of distribution. The bootstrapping approach is used to calculate confidence intervals using a uniform distribution. Monte Carlo simulation also begins with the generation of evenly distributed pseudo-random numbers.

2. Binomial Distribution

The random variable in a binomial distribution is defined as the number of successes in several independently repeated trials.

3. Normal/Gaussian Distribution

It is one of the most well-known distributions, and it governs a variety of real-world phenomena such as measurement error, human height, test scores, and so on. When the mean equals 0 and the standard deviation equals 1, the normal distribution becomes a standard normal distribution. This distribution is a must-know distribution for data scientists since it has a wide range of applications. Many machine learning methods, such as Least Squares-based regression, Gaussian Naive Bayes Classifier, Linear and Quadratic Discriminant Analysis, and so on, are intended to function on datasets with a normal distribution.

4. Poisson Distribution

It is often referred to as the distribution of real events. If an event occurs with a fixed rate in time like five people entering a stadium each second or two mangoes ripening every minute at a farm. Then the possibility of observing and a number of events in a unit time could be calculated using Poisson probability distributions. Real-world phenomena like car accidents, traffic flow, genetic mutations and several typing errors on the page allow Poisson probability distributions. It is used by many businesses for forecasting the number of customers coming to them.

5. Exponential Distribution

The exponential distribution is very closely related to the Poisson distribution. If a possible event occurs at a fixed time interval then the difference between two consecutive Poisson events is distributed exponentially. Exponential distribution has a confined use edge in data science. If you want to move from this process to the time domain then exponential distribution is the go-to distribution.


Due to their widespread use, chance distributions are common among knowledge analyzers and knowledge science experts. In today's world, companies and businesses hire data scientists in a variety of fields, including computer science, health care, insurance, engineering, and even social science, where probability distribution definition appears as fundamental software tools. It is critical for knowledge analysts and scientists to understand the fundamentals of statistics. Chance Distributions play an important role in evaluating data and preparing a dataset to successfully train algorithms. Hope this article helped you to understand probability distributions.

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