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Is there a deep difference between a Normal and a Gaussian distribution, I've seen many papers using them without distinction, and I usually also refer to them as the same thing.

However, my PI recently told me that a normal is the specific case of the Gaussian with mean=0 and std=1, which I also heard some time ago in another outlet, what is the consensus on this?

According to Wikipedia, what they call the normal, is the standard normal distribution, while the Normal is a synonym for the Gaussian, but then again, I'm not sure about Wikipedia either.


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Wikipedia is right, in this case. It usually is for topics like this. I would be more leery of it on controversial topics. – Peter Flom Apr 12 '13 at 17:33
There is a consensus. Your PI is confusing "Normal" with "Standard normal." The former refers to any version of the latter obtained via a change of location or scale. – whuber Apr 12 '13 at 17:43
Go with Wikipedia & Peter & whuber - & hire a different private investigator. – Scortchi Apr 12 '13 at 18:23
Here's one moderately authoritative reference: – whuber Apr 12 '13 at 20:53
Peter Flom is right - as is Wikipedia, and whuber, and Scortchi. You can find any number of more authoritative works that support it - hundreds, perhaps thousands of standard texts for example and numerous papers. – Glen_b Apr 12 '13 at 23:02
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Wikipedia is right. The Gaussian is the same as the normal. Wikipedia can usually be trusted on this sort of question.

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Actually the normal distribution is the sub form of Gaussian distribution. Gaussian distribution have 2 parameters, mean and variance. When there is zero mean and unit variance the Gaussian distribution becomes normal other wise it is pronounced as Gaussian.

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No. This is not right. The standard normal distribution has mean 0 and variance 1, but a normal distribution can have any mean and variance. – Peter Flom Sep 5 '13 at 11:52
Different academic communities tend to favor Normal or Gaussian for the same probability distribution. The definitions in this answer are not common usage. – Hbar Aug 6 '15 at 11:02
wow, it's strange that when I googled "normal vs gaussian distribution" this particular answer, the one with the lowest rating, is what Google chose to show ... hmmm, they should fix that ... – Solarmew Sep 2 '15 at 0:45

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