Factorial moment

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In probability theory, the factorial moment is a mathematical quantity defined as the expectation or average of the falling factorial of a random variable. Factorial moments are useful for studying non-negative integer-valued random variables,[1] and arise in the use of probability-generating functions to derive the moments of discrete random variables.

Factorial moments serve as analytic tools in the mathematical field of combinatorics, which is the study of discrete mathematical structures.[2]

Definition[edit]

For a natural number r, the r-th factorial moment of a probability distribution on the real or complex numbers, or, in other words, a random variable X with that probability distribution, is[3]

where the E is the expectation (operator) and

is the falling factorial, which gives rise to the name, although the notation (x)r varies depending on the mathematical field. [a] Of course, the definition requires that the expectation is meaningful, which is the case if (X)r ≥ 0 or E[|(X)r|] < ∞.

Examples[edit]

Poisson distribution[edit]

If a random variable X has a Poisson distribution with parameter λ, then the factorial moments of X are

which are simple in form compared to its moments, which involve Stirling numbers of the second kind.

Binomial distribution[edit]

If a random variable X has a binomial distribution with success probability p [0,1] and number of trials n, then the factorial moments of X are[5]

where by convention, and are understood to be zero if r > n.

Hypergeometric distribution[edit]

If a random variable X has a hypergeometric distribution with population size N, number of success states K ∈ {0,...,N} in the population, and draws n ∈ {0,...,N}, then the factorial moments of X are [5]

Beta-binomial distribution[edit]

If a random variable X has a beta-binomial distribution with parameters α > 0, β > 0, and number of trials n, then the factorial moments of X are

Calculation of moments[edit]

The nth moment of a random variable X can be expressed in terms of its factorial moments by the formula

where the curly braces denote Stirling numbers of the second kind.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Confusingly, this same notation, the Pochhammer symbol (x)r, is used, especially in the theory of special functions, to denote the rising factorial x(x + 1)(x + 2) ... (x + r − 1);.[4] whereas the present notation is used more often in combinatorics.

References[edit]

  1. ^ D. J. Daley and D. Vere-Jones. An introduction to the theory of point processes. Vol. I. Probability and its Applications (New York). Springer, New York, second edition, 2003
  2. ^ Riordan, John (1958). Introduction to Combinatorial Analysis. Dover. 
  3. ^ Riordan, John (1958). Introduction to Combinatorial Analysis. Dover. p. 30. 
  4. ^ NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Potts, RB (1953). "Note on the factorial moments of standard distributions". Australian Journal of Physics. CSIRO. 6 (4): 498–499. doi:10.1071/ph530498.