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The probability plot is a graphical

technique for assessing whether or not a
data set follows a given distribution. The
data are plotted against a theoretical
distribution in such a way that the points
should form approximately a straight line.
Departures from this straight line indicate
departures from the specified distribution.
Probability plotting - is a graphical
method for determining whether sample
data conform to a hypothesized distribution
based on a subjective visual examination of
the data.

Probability paper – is a special graphing

paper typically use by making probability
plots, that has been designed for the
hypothesized distribution.
To construct a probability plot, the observations in the sample
are first ranked from smallest to largest.
That is, the sample x1, x2, . . . , xn is arranged as x(1), x(2), . . . , x(n).

x(1) is the smallest observation
x(2) is the second smallest observation
x(n) is the largest observation

The ordered observations x( j) are then plotted against their

observed cumulative frequency ( j − 0.5)/n [or 100 ( j − 0.5)/n] on
the appropriate probability paper.

If the hypothesized distribution adequately describes the data, the

plotted points will fall approximately along a straight line; if the
plotted points deviate significantly and systematically from a
straight line, the hypothesized model is not appropriate. Usually, the
determination of whether or not the data plot as a straight line is
When you have a set of data that you think might
have a normal distribution (i.e. a bell curve), a
graph of your data can help you decide whether or
not your data is normal. Making a histogram of
your data can help you decide whether or not a set
of data is normal, but there is a more specialized
type of plot you can create, called a normal
probability plot.
-It graph z scores(normal scores) against your data
set. With normal probability plot, it can be easier
to see individual data items that don’t quite fit a
normal distribution.

Observations on the road

octane number of ten
gasoline blends are as follows: j x(j) (j - 0.5)/10
88.9, 87.0, 90.0, 88.2, 87.2,
87.4, 87.8, 89.7, 86.0, and
1 86.0 0.05
89.6. We hypothesize that
octane number is adequately
2 87.0 0.15
modeled by a normal 3 87.2 0.25
distribution. Is this a
reasonable assumption? 4 87.4 0.35
5 87.8 0.45
To use probability plotting to 6 88.2 0.55
investigate this hypothesis,
first arrange the observations 7 88.9 0.65
in ascending order and
calculate their cumulative 8 89.6 0.75
frequencies ( j − 0.5)/10 as
shown in the table.
9 89.7 0.85
10 90.0 0.9
The pairs of values x(j) and
( j − 0.5)/10 are now
plotted on normal
probability paper.
Most normal probability
paper plots 100( j − 0.5)/n
on the left vertical scale
(and some also plot 100[1 −
( j − 0.5)/n] on the right
vertical scale), with the
variable value plotted on
the horizontal scale.
A straight line, chosen
subjectively as a “best fit”
line, has been drawn
through the plotted points.
Probability plots are extremely useful and are often
the first technique used when we need to
determine which probability distribution is likely
to provide a reasonable model for data.
In using probability plots, usually the distribution
is chosen by subjective assessment of the
probability plot. More formal statistical goodness-
of-fit tests can also be used in conjunction with
probability plotting.
Some useful approximation
In certain quality control problems, it is sometimes
useful to approximate one probability distribution
with another.
This is particularly helpful in situations where the
original distribution is difficult to manipulate
If the ratio n/N (often called the sampling fraction) is
small—say, n/N ≤ 0.1—then the binomial distribution with
parameters p = D/N and n is a good approximation to the
hypergeometric. The approximation is better for small
values of n/N.
This approximation is useful in the design of acceptance-
sampling plans. Recall that the hypergeometric distribution
is the appropriate model for the number of nonconforming
items obtained in a random sample of n items from a lot of
finite size N.
Thus, if the sample size n is small relative to the lot size N,
the binomial approximation may be employed, which
usually simplifies the calculations considerably.
Normal approximation to the Binomial