## Tuesday, May 27, 2014

### Solving Poisson Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

This is one of the following six articles on Solving Problems With Other Distributions in Excel

Solving Uniform Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

Solving Multinomial Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

Solving Exponential Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

Solving Beta Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

Solving Gamma Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

Solving Poisson Distribution Problems in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013

# Poisson Distribution Overview

The Poisson distribution is a family of discrete probability distributions. This is evidenced by the stepwise shape of the above graph of a Poisson distribution’s PDF (Probability Density Function) curve. The stepwise shape of a discrete distribution indicates that the discrete distribution can only assume discrete values and is not continuous.

The Poisson distribution has one parameter, its rate parameter λ (Lamda). The rate parameter λ equals the average number of events occurring in a given unit of time. The Poisson Distribution is used to calculate the probability of a specific number of events occurring over a unit of time if the average number of events occurring over that unit of time equals the rate parameter λ and the occurrence of the event is distributed according to the Poisson distribution.

Previous measurement must have been taken to determine the following:

1) The events occur in frequency according to the Poisson distribution

2) The average rate, which is the expected number of occurrences of that event over the given time period.

The PDF (Probability Density Function) of the Poisson distribution predicts the degree of spread around a known average rate of occurrence.

Examples of events whose frequency of occurrence over a given period of time are often distributed according to the Poisson distribution are the following:

Number of telephone calls that come over a switchboard

Number of cars arriving at a traffic light

Number of accidents at an intersection

Number of customers arriving at a sales counter

Number of insurance losses/claims filed

Number of goals in sports involving two competing teams

Number of jumps in stock price

Number of times a web server is accessed

## Characteristics of Poisson- Distributed Events

The Poisson distribution is used for situations that involve counting events over identical intervals of time or objects over identical intervals of volume. If each count is independent of the others, the probability of an event occurring in any of the intervals is constant, and the average count is known, the Poisson distribution can be used to calculate the probability of a specific number of events occurring in an interval.

The Poisson distribution has only one parameter: the rate parameter λ. The rate parameter λ (Lamda) equals the average number of occurrences over the intervals. λ also equals the variance in the number of occurrences over the intervals. One check of whether data are Poisson-distributed is whether the mean number of occurrences equals the variance n the number of occurrences over the intervals.

The Poisson distribution is based upon the following four assumptions:

1) The probability of an event occurring remains constant in all intervals.

2) All events are independent of each other and do not overlap.

3) The probability of observing a single event over a small interval is approximately proportional to the size of that interval.

4) The mean number of occurrences per interval (λ) and the variance in the number of occurrence per interval are approximately the same.

## Poisson Distribution’s PDF – Probability Density Function

The following Excel-generated graph shows the normal distribution’s PDF (Probability Density Function) for as the X value goes from 2 to 15 with λ = 10.

The PDF value of a statistical distribution (the Y value) at a specific X value equals the probability that the value of a random sample will be equal to that X value if the population of data values from which the sample was taken is distributed according the stated distribution. The CDF value of a statistical distribution (the Y value) at a specific X value equals the probability that the value of a random sample will be up to that X value.

## Poisson Distribution’s CDF – Cumulative Distribution Function

The following Excel-generated graph shows the Poisson distribution’s CDF (Cumulative Distribution Function) for λ = 10 as the X value goes from 2 to 35.

The CDF value of a statistical distribution (the Y value) at a specific X value equals the probability that the value of a random sample will be up to that X value if the population of data values from which the sample was taken is distributed according the stated distribution. The PDF value of a statistical distribution (the Y value) at a specific X value equals the probability that the value of a random sample will be equal to that X value.

### Poisson PDF Problem Solved in Excel

Calls made to a help line are Poisson-distributed and are received with an average frequency of 4.8 calls per minute. What is the probability that EXACTLY 4 calls will be received during any minute?

The problem asks to calculate the probability that the calls frequency will be EXACTLY 4 calls/minute so the Poisson’s PDF (Probability Density Function) will be used to solve this problem.

If a call comes in with an average frequency of 4.8 calls/minute, the rate parameter λ = 4.8.

The X value to be evaluated at a rate of X = 4 calls/minute

The Excel equation to solve the problem is as follows:

f(X=4;λ=4.8) = POISSON.DIST(X,λ,FALSE) = POISSON.DIST(4,4.8,FALSE) = 0.182

There is a 18.2 percent probability that EXACTLY 4 calls will come in during any minute. This agrees with the PDF graph which X = 4 corresponds with Y = 0.182 as follows:

### Poisson CDF Problem Solved in Excel

Calls made to a help line are Poisson-distributed and are received with an average frequency of 4.8 calls per minute. What is the probability that UP TO 4 calls will be received during any minute?

The problem asks to calculate the probability that the calls frequency will be UP TO 4 calls/minute so the Poisson’s CDF (Cumulative Distribution Function) will be used to solve this problem.

If a call comes in with an average frequency of 4.8 calls/minute, the rate parameter λ = 4.8.

The X value to be evaluated at a rate of X = 4 calls/minute

The Excel equation to solve the problem is as follows:

f(X=4;λ=4.8) = POISSON.DIST(X,λ,TRUE) = POISSON.DIST(4,4.8,TRUE) = 0.4763

There is a 47.63 percent probability that UP TO 4 calls will come in during any minute. This agrees with the CDF graph which X = 4 corresponds with Y = 0.4763 as follows:

Excel Master Series Blog Directory

Statistical Topics and Articles In Each Topic

• Histograms in Excel
• Bar Chart in Excel
• Combinations & Permutations in Excel
• Normal Distribution in Excel
• t-Distribution in Excel
• Binomial Distribution in Excel
• z-Tests in Excel
• t-Tests in Excel
• Hypothesis Tests of Proportion in Excel
• Chi-Square Independence Tests in Excel
• Chi-Square Goodness-Of-Fit Tests in Excel
• F Tests in Excel
• Correlation in Excel
• Pearson Correlation in Excel
• Spearman Correlation in Excel
• Confidence Intervals in Excel
• Simple Linear Regression in Excel
• Multiple Linear Regression in Excel
• Logistic Regression in Excel
• Single-Factor ANOVA in Excel
• Two-Factor ANOVA With Replication in Excel
• Two-Factor ANOVA Without Replication in Excel
• Randomized Block Design ANOVA in Excel
• Repeated-Measures ANOVA in Excel
• ANCOVA in Excel
• Normality Testing in Excel
• Nonparametric Testing in Excel
• Post Hoc Testing in Excel
• Creating Interactive Graphs of Statistical Distributions in Excel
• Solving Problems With Other Distributions in Excel
• Optimization With Excel Solver
• Chi-Square Population Variance Test in Excel
• Analyzing Data With Pivot Tables
• SEO Functions in Excel
• Time Series Analysis in Excel
• VLOOKUP