Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Creating a histogram and then applying a gaussian fit. Help!

  1. Sep 16, 2007 #1
    Ok, I need to take the data:

    Code (Text):

    D1     D2
    6.5    3
    6      4
    6.7    5.5
    7      3.8
    6.3    4.5
    8.6    5.8
    5.5    4
    7      3.5
    7      4.5
    7      5
    6.5    4
    6.8    3.2
    7      3.6
    6      4.5
    6      2.8
    and make a histogram (centered around 0 -- i.e. 0 will not be an edge of a bin) of the data and then fit a gaussian to the data.

    This is the normal distribution equation:

    And I am to normalize the data using (D1-D2)/D1

    I normally would not ask for help with something like this, but it is for a 1unit seminar and this was all the information I was given. I have never even had any statistics education. I tried looking up how to create a histogram and all of that, but just reached a state of utter confusion when it came to "bins."

    Can someone at least point me in the right direction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    After you calculate the "normalized" data, D = 1 - D2/D1, you are to create multiple bins that will make the D's look like the "bell curve." It can help to experiment with different bin sizes to make the histogram as similar to the normal curve as possible. I guess "fitting a gaussian to the data" is one way of saying "calculate the average and the standard deviation for the D's."
  4. Sep 16, 2007 #3

    What exactly is a bin? And would you recommend doing this on Excel, or is there a superior program available online?
  5. Sep 16, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    A bin is a subinterval. Say, your data were randomly distributed between -10 and +10. Then you could represent this as a single bin, which would appear as a single column representing "all data." This would not be a very informative histogram. Alternatively, you could have 20 bins each with unit length, i.e. [-10 to -9], ..., [+9 to +10]. Excel is as good as any for this problem.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histogram
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2007
  6. Sep 16, 2007 #5
    Last questions methinks:

    1. How to I apply the equation for normal distribution to my data in Excel?
  7. Sep 17, 2007 #6
    I suppose you should estimate mean and standard deviation, and use your estimates as the parameters "mu" and "sigma" in your ecuation, with A = 1/(sigma . sqrt(2 . pi)).

    By the way, why use (D1-D2)/D1 instead of (D2-D1)/D1 ? Unless you deliberately want to change the sign of the difference.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2007
  8. Sep 17, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Use Excel functions AVERAGE and STDEV to calculate these parameters from data. Then use NORMDIST to calculate the probability:

    From Excel help:
  9. Sep 17, 2007 #8
    Alright, I have my histogram, as well as my Standard Deviation and Mean for the data.

    My final question is how do I get excel to actually overlay the normal distribution curve over my existing histogram?

    Do I have to use NORMDIST to return the normal distribution first? And if so, what does the parameter 'X' represent?
  10. Sep 18, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    X is equivalent to your "normalized" variable, which I named D above.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?