Median absolute deviation
In statistics, the median absolute deviation (MAD) is a robust measure of the variability of a univariate sample of quantitative data. It can also refer to the population parameter that is estimated by the MAD calculated from a sample.
Consider the data (1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 6, 9). It has a median value of 2. The absolute deviations about 2 are (1, 1, 0, 0, 2, 4, 7) which in turn have a median value of 1 (because the sorted absolute deviations are (0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 4, 7)). So the median absolute deviation for this data is 1.
Relation to standard deviation
where K is a constant scale factor, which depends on the distribution.
For normally distributed data K is taken to be 1/Φ−1(3/4) 1.4826, where Φ−1 is the inverse of the cumulative distribution function for the standard normal distribution, i.e., the quantile function. This is because the MAD is given by:
Therefore we must have that Φ(MAD/σ) − Φ(−MAD/σ) = 1/2. Since Φ(−MAD/σ) = 1 − Φ(MAD/σ) we have that MAD/σ = Φ−1(3/4) from which we obtain the scale factor K = 1/Φ−1(3/4).
In other words, the expectation of 1.4826 times the MAD for large samples of normally distributed Xi is approximately equal to the population standard deviation.
The population MAD
The population MAD is defined analogously to the sample MAD, but is based on the complete distribution rather than on a sample. For a symmetric distribution with zero mean, the population MAD is the 75th percentile of the distribution.
- Hoaglin, David C.; Frederick Mosteller and John W. Tukey (1983). Understanding Robust and Exploratory Data Analysis. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 404–414. ISBN 0-471-09777-2.
- Russell, Roberta S.; Bernard W. Taylor III. (2006). Operations Management. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 497–498. ISBN 0-471-69209-3.
- Venables, W.N.; B.D. Ripley (1999). Modern Applied Statistics with S-PLUS. Springer. p. 128. ISBN 0-387-98825-4.