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I'm working in Python statsmodels, and trying to find the distribution of the data in a numpy array. From the histogram, it looked like the data might be log-normally distributed. So, I took the logarithm of the data and plotted normal pp- and qq-plots:

fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(10, 4))
probplot = sm.ProbPlot(np.log(values), fit=True)
probplot.ppplot(line='45', ax=ax[0])
probplot.qqplot(line='45', ax=ax[1])
ax[0].set_title('P-P Plot')
ax[1].set_title('Q-Q Plot')
plt.show()

normal probability plot of the log of the data

Based on the plots above, I infer that the logarithm of my data is approximately normally distributed. Therefore, my data should be (?) log-normally distributed. But, when I fit the data itself to a log-normal distribution and plot the pp- and qq-plots, it looks way off:

fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(14, 4))
probplot = sm.ProbPlot(values, dist=lognorm, fit=True)
probplot.ppplot(line='45', ax=ax[0])
probplot.qqplot(line='45', ax=ax[1])
ax[0].set_title('P-P Plot')
ax[1].set_title('Q-Q Plot')
plt.show()

lognormal probability plot of the data

If the log of the data is approximately normally distributed, shouldn't the data itself be log-normally distributed? Am I doing something wrong in the code or inferring something incorrectly?

EDIT 1: my values aren't particularly large:

count    15174.000000
mean        57.769947
std         69.944390
min          1.486459
25%         23.676258
50%         41.553398
75%         69.389144
max       1913.764130

So why would my quantiles look like that in the Q-Q plot?

EDIT 2: if I do the prob plot directly in scipy, things look different but still don't seem right:

shape, loc, scale = lognorm.fit(values)
print(shape, loc, scale)

3.74176496393 1.48645695058 1.95280308726

fig, ax = plt.subplots()
stats.probplot(values, fit=True, dist=lognorm, sparams=(shape, loc, scale), plot=ax)
plt.show()

scipy lognormal prob plot

If the log of the data is normally distributed, why does the prob plot of my lognorm fit look so far off?

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you know how it fits the lognormal distribution? Does it estimate parameters with maximum likelihood? Or what is it doing? Eg. the maximum likelihood estimator of $\mu$ for lognormal distribution is $\frac{1}{n} \sum_i \log x_i$. That's almost certainly not what it's doing though. FYI a general issue with log-normal distribution is that if you compute raw moments (eg. $\frac{1}{n} \sum_i x_i$ etc...) to estimate parameters $\mu$ and $\sigma$ you tend to perform horribly because all your estimation is driven by a few observations in far right tail. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Gunn Oct 8 '16 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ Clearly from second figure, something f'ed up is going on when fitting the log-normal distribution. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Gunn Oct 8 '16 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question to provide a direct scipy version. I fit the data to a lognormal distribution, get the parameters, and make a probability plot accordingly. 1) why do the statsmodels and scipy plots look so different? 2) why does the scipy plot still look like it's not a very good fit? $\endgroup$ – eos Oct 8 '16 at 20:56
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Look how big your values are. Look at your Theoretical Quantiles on the second (bad) set of plots. Notice anything alarming?

statsmodel.ProbPlot is experiencing some, ahem, extreme numerical errors when you feed it such large values.

We can compare the behavior of scipy.stats.probplot with statsmodel.ProbPlot as a check.

Run this code first with s=0.954. Then run it with s=5.23.

import matplotlib
import numpy as np
import statsmodels.api as sm
from scipy import stats
from scipy.stats import lognorm
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# generate some lognormal values
s = 0.954 # shape parameter
#s = 5.23
mean, var, skew, kurt = lognorm.stats(s, moments='mvsk')
print(mean,var,skew,kurt)
x = stats.lognorm.rvs(s, size=1000)
print("max(x) = ",np.max(x),"  min(x) = ",np.min(x))

# make Scipy probplot
fig1 = plt.figure()
ax1 = fig1.add_subplot(111)
res1 = stats.probplot(x, fit=True, dist=stats.lognorm,sparams=(s,), plot=ax1)
#res1 = stats.probplot(x, fit=True, sparams=(s,), plot=ax1)
ax1.set_title("Scipy Probplot for lognormal dist")
plt.show()

# make statsmodel probplot
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(14, 4))
#shape, loc, scale = lognorm.fit(x)
print(shape,loc,scale)
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, fit=True, loc=loc, scale=scale, distargs=(shape,))
print("max(x) = ",np.max(x),"  min(x) = ",np.min(x))
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(np.log(x), fit=True)
probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, fit=True)  # bad line
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, loc=loc, scale=scale,  fit=True)
probplot.ppplot(line='45', ax=ax[0])
probplot.qqplot(line='45', ax=ax[1])
ax[0].set_title('P-P Plot')
ax[1].set_title('Q-Q Plot')
plt.show()

Scipy also has an unfamiliar form for the lognormal equation, see fitting log normal distribution in R vs Scipy

Addendum: Look at the size of your Theoretical Quantiles, with values like 120,000 and 500,000. I postulate that within sm.ProbPlot, somewhere it is doing exp(large number) and getting a lot of inf's and large numbers like 500,000.

Now run this code (below) Initially, s is set to 0.954. Note how the max of the data is around 25 or so. The quantiles and histogram all have maximum values close to the maximum of the data.

Then set s to 3.74176496393, which is the fit from your data. Now things start to go awry. I just ran it and got max(x)=485,096. The plots are scaled out to 500,000 to 700,000. This is aggravated by your original code line:

probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, fit=True)  # original code line

... which doesn't give location, scale, and shape to the routine.

Yet your data don't have a max of 200,000 - 500,000, as a shape=3.74 will give you. The max of your data is 1913 -- when you fit it, you got a shape parameter of s=3.74. Your 75% is 69; could you have some outliers that are excessively influencing the fit?

I postulate you are getting a poor fit of the lognormal distribution to your data.

import matplotlib
import numpy as np
import statsmodels.api as sm
from scipy import stats
from scipy.stats import lognorm
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# generate some lognormal values
s = 0.954 # shape parameter
#s = 3.74176496393
mean, var, skew, kurt = lognorm.stats(s, moments='mvsk')
print("Generated random lognormal variable x")
print("shape = ",s)
print("Distribution parameters")
print("mean = ",mean," var = ",var," skew = ",skew," kurtosis = ",kurt)
x = stats.lognorm.rvs(s, size=1000)
print("max(x) = ",np.max(x),"  min(x) = ",np.min(x))

# make Scipy probplot
fig1 = plt.figure()
ax1 = fig1.add_subplot(111)
res1 = stats.probplot(x, fit=True, dist=stats.lognorm,sparams=(s,), plot=ax1)
#res1 = stats.probplot(x, fit=True, sparams=(s,), plot=ax1)
ax1.set_title("Scipy Probplot for lognormal dist")
plt.show()

# make statsmodel probplot
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 2, figsize=(14, 4))
shape, loc, scale = lognorm.fit(x)

#paramters from actual data
#shape=3.74176496393 
#loc=1.48645695058 
#scale=1.95280308726

print("shape (sigma) =",shape," loc (mu) = ",loc," scale (alpha) = ",scale)
print("max(x) = ",np.max(x),"  min(x) = ",np.min(x))
probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, fit=True, loc=loc, scale=scale, distargs=(shape,))
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(np.log(x), fit=True)
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, fit=True)  # original code line
#probplot = sm.ProbPlot(x, dist=lognorm, loc=loc, scale=scale,  fit=True)
probplot.ppplot(line='45', ax=ax[0])
probplot.qqplot(line='45', ax=ax[1])
ax[0].set_title('Statsmodels P-P Plot')
ax[1].set_title('Statsmodels Q-Q Plot')
plt.show()

# histograms and fit pdf
fig3 = plt.figure()
ax3 = fig3.add_subplot(111)

#xp = np.linspace(lognorm.ppf(0.01, s),
#                lognorm.ppf(0.99, s), 100)

print("s =",s)
shape, loc, scale = lognorm.fit(x)
#actual values from dataset:
#shape=3.74176496393 
#loc=1.48645695058 
#scale=1.95280308726
print("Shape = %3f  loc = %3f   scale = %3f" %(shape,scale,loc))

xp = np.linspace(lognorm.ppf(0.01, shape),
                lognorm.ppf(0.99, shape), 100)

ax3.plot(xp, lognorm.pdf(xp,shape),'r-', lw=5, alpha=0.6, label='lognorm pdf',figure=fig3)

ax3.hist(x, normed=True, log=False, histtype='stepfilled', alpha=0.2,figure=fig3)
ax3.legend(loc='best', frameon=False)
plt.show()
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  • $\begingroup$ My values aren't particularly large. I edited the question to include the descriptive stats. Why would my quantiles look like that in the Q-Q plot? $\endgroup$ – eos Oct 8 '16 at 19:59

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