Truncated mean

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{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} A truncated mean or trimmed mean is a statistical measure of central tendency, much like the mean and median. It involves the calculation of the mean after discarding given parts of a probability distribution or sample at the high and low end, and typically discarding an equal amount of both. This is usually given as a percentage, but may be given as a fixed number of points.

For most statistical applications, 5 to 25 percent of the ends are discarded; the 25% trimmed mean (when the lowest 25% and the highest 25% are discarded) is known as the interquartile mean. For example, given a set of 8 points, trimming by 12.5% would discard the minimum and maximum value in the sample: the first and last values.

The median can be regarded as a fully truncated mean and is most robust. As with other trimmed estimators, the main advantage of the trimmed mean is robustness and higher efficiency for mixed distributions and heavy-tailed distribution (like the Cauchy distribution), at the cost of lower efficiency for some other less heavily-tailed distributions (such as the normal distribution). For intermediate distributions the differences between the efficiency of the mean and the median are not very big, e.g. for the student-t distribution with 2 degrees of freedom the variances for mean and median are nearly equal.


In some regions of Central Europe it is also known as a Windsor mean, but this name should not be confused with the Winsorized mean: in the latter, the observations that the trimmed mean would discard are instead replaced by the largest/smallest of the remaining values.

Discarding only the maximum and minimum is known as the Template:Visible anchor, particularly management statistics.[1]


When the percentage of points to discard does not yield a whole number, the trimmed mean may be defined by interpolation, generally linear interpolation, between the nearest whole numbers. For example, if you need to calculate the 15% trimmed mean of a sample containing 10 entries, strictly this would mean discarding 1 point from each end (equivalent to the 10% trimmed mean). If interpolating, one would instead compute the 10% trimmed mean (discarding 1 point from each end) and the 20% trimmed mean (discarding 2 points from each end), and then interpolating, in this case averaging these two values. Similarly, if interpolating the 12% trimmed mean, one would take the weighted average: weight the 10% trimmed mean by 0.8 and the 20% trimmed mean by 0.2.


The truncated mean is a useful estimator because it is less sensitive to outliers than the mean but will still give a reasonable estimate of central tendency or mean for many statistical models. In this regard it is referred to as a robust estimator.

One situation in which it can be advantageous to use a truncated mean is when estimating the location parameter of a Cauchy distribution, a bell shaped probability distribution with (much) fatter tails than a normal distribution. It can be shown that the truncated mean of the middle 24% sample order statistics (i.e., truncate the sample by 38%) produces an estimate for the population location parameter that is more efficient than using either the sample median or the full sample mean.[2][3] However, due to the fat tails of the Cauchy distribution, the efficiency of the estimator decreases as more of the sample gets used in the estimate.[2][3] Note that for the Cauchy distribution, neither the truncated mean, full sample mean or sample median represents a maximum likelihood estimator, nor are any as asymptotically efficient as the maximum likelihood estimator; however, the maximum likelihood estimate is more difficult to compute, leaving the truncated mean as a useful alternative.[3][4]


The truncated mean uses more information from the distribution or sample than the median, but unless the underlying distribution is symmetric, the truncated mean of a sample is unlikely to produce an unbiased estimator for either the mean or the median.


The scoring method used in many sports that are evaluated by a panel of judges is a truncated mean: discard the lowest and the highest scores; calculate the mean value of the remaining scores.

The Libor benchmark interest rate is calculated as a trimmed mean: given 18 response, the top 4 and bottom 4 are discarded, and the remaining 10 are averaged (yielding trim factor of ).

See also


  1. Arulmozhi, G.; Statistics For Management, 2nd Edition, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, 2009, p. 458
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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 {{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}
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