Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The correlation is one of the most common and most useful statistics. A correlation is a single number that describes the degree of relationship between two variables.
We use the symbol r to stand for the correlation. Through the magic of mathematics it turns out that r will always be between -1.0 and +1.0. if the correlation is negative, we have a negative relationship; if it's positive, the relationship is positive. You don't need to know how we came up with this formula unless you want to be a statistician.
In probability theory and statistics, correlation (often measured as a correlation coefficient) indicates the strength and direction of a linear relationship between two random variables. That is in contrast with the usage of the term in colloquial speech, denoting any relationship, not necessarily linear. In general statistical usage, correlation or co-relation refers to the departure of two random variables from independence. In this broad sense there are several coefficients, measuring the degree of correlation, adapted to the nature of the data.
A number of different coefficients are used for different situations. The best known is the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, which is obtained by dividing the covariance of the two variables by the product of their standard deviations. Despite its name, it was first introduced by Francis Galton.