DEFINITION of 'Population'

The entire pool from which a statistical sample is drawn. The information obtained from the sample allows statisticians to develop hypotheses about the larger population. Researchers gather information from a sample because of the difficulty of studying the entire population. In statistical equations, population is usually denoted with a capital 'N', while the sample is usually denoted with a lowercase 'n'.

BREAKING DOWN 'Population'

For example, let's say a denim apparel manufacturer wants to check the quality of the stitching on its blue jeans before shipping them off to retail stores. It is not cost effective to examine every single pair of blue jeans the manufacturer produces (the population). Instead, the manufacturer looks at just 50 pairs (a sample) to draw a conclusion about whether all 500 pairs of jeans produced (the population) are likely to have been stitched correctly.

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