Say we have $X \sim Unif\{1, \ldots , \theta\}$ and we want to find the uniformly minimum variance unbiased estimator for $\theta$.

My first assumption was $X_{(n)}$. Which I managed to show is complete sufficient and unbiased. Can I conclude that this is UMVUE? Is there a theorem which would say that:

If a statistic is sufficient, complete and unbiased, then it is UMVUE?

Thank you for the information!

CORRECTION: As noted in comment, $X_{(n)}$ is biased.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Think carefully about whether it is unbiased, given that for any $X_{(n)} < \theta$, your estimate will be low, but there are no (possible) circumstances under which it will be high. $\endgroup$
    – jbowman
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @jbowman Indeed, the $X_{(n)}$ is bias, however it converges towards $\theta$ almost surely as the sample size increases. What would be a unbiased estimator in this case? $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2018 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ My hint was pretty useless, my apologies. Try the "real" way: construct an unbiased estimator, not worrying about whether it uses $X_{(n)}$, then calculate its expected value given $X_{(n)}$. A good place to start is seeing if you can construct an unbiased estimator using the sample mean. $\endgroup$
    – jbowman
    Apr 2, 2018 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ An important point to note: If your sample size is large enough, asymptotic unbiasedness maybe good enough as the "difference" will go to zero...case and point -- the (1/N) vs (1/N-1) scaling of the sample variance $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Apr 2, 2018 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ A similar idea is at play when considering the asymptotic properties of the MLE $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Apr 2, 2018 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


Let's take Sid's answer and work with it. We'll start out with a simple unbiased estimator of $\theta$ and work out its expectation given $X_{(n)}$.

Our simple unbiased estimator will be based on the sample mean, whose expectation is:

$$\mathbb{E}\bar{X} = {\theta + 1 \over 2}$$

We can construct our unbiased estimator $T$ as:

$$T = 2\bar{X}-1$$

Now, given a sample of size $n$ and $X_{(n)}$, the expectation of $T$ can be calculated by noting that, conditional upon $X_{(n)}$,

  1. One of the data points is known to be $X_{(n)}$,
  2. The other $n-1$ data points are distributed according to a discrete uniform distribution on $\{1, \dots, X_{(n)}\}$, which has expectation $(X_{(n)} + 1) / 2$.

So, starting out by calculating $\mathbb{E}[\bar{X}|X_{(n)}]$, which is a valid approach as $T$ is linear in $\bar{X}$,

$$\mathbb{E}\bar{X} = {X_{(n)} + (n-1){X_{(n)} + 1 \over 2} \over n}$$

Rearranging terms gives us:

$$\mathbb{E}\bar{X} = {(n+1)X_{(n)}+(n-1) \over 2n}$$


$$\mathbb{E}T = {(n+1)X_{(n)}+(n-1) \over n} - 1$$

resulting, with some further simplification, in our UMVUE $T^*$:

$$T^* = {(n+1)X_{(n)} - 1 \over n}$$

Having done all this, I am sorry to note that this estimator will not, in general, output integer values for its estimates, even though we (I presume) know $\theta$ is an integer. "Unbiased" and "variance" are not terms that take this into account, however, so were we to be in a real-world situation where we had to provide integer estimates of $\theta$, we'd have to do something else - if only (possibly) round off the estimates we get this way.

ETA: Finding the conditional distribution of $X|X_{(n)}$. Given $X_{(n)}$, we know $X \in \{1, \dots, X_{(n)}\}$. The conditional distribution $p(x|x \leq X_{(n)})$ is:

$$ p(x|x \leq X_{(n)}) = {p(x) \over P(X_{(n)})}$$

where $P(X_{(n)})$ is the probability that $x \leq X_{(n)}$.

Now, $P(X_{(n)}) = X_{(n)}/\theta$. Substituting gives:

$$ p(x|x \leq X_{(n)}) = {1/\theta \over (X_{(n)}/\theta)} = {1 \over X_{(n)}}$$

This, combined with the fact that $X \in \{1, \dots, X_{(n)}\}$, is sufficient for us to conclude that $x|x\leq X_{(n)}$ is distributed according to a discrete uniform distribution on $\{1, \dots, X_{(n)}\}$.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the VERY comprehensive answer, I am however confused as to how you find the conditional distribution of $P(X|X_{(n)})$. $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2018 at 4:49
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    $\begingroup$ Added an edit to address this point. $\endgroup$
    – jbowman
    Apr 2, 2018 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thank You very much for the insight on this, surprising how uniforms on discrete sets can be so tricky! $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2018 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ My calculations of the UMVUE give $\hat\theta=\frac{X_{(n)}^{n+1}-(X_{(n)}-1)^{n+1}}{X_{(n)}^n-(X_{(n)}-1)^n}$ (math.stackexchange.com/questions/2944781/…). Could you recheck? $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2019 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ In your answer you have assumed sampling is done without replacement (so the $X_i$s are not independent), but if $X_1,\ldots,X_n$ are i.i.d uniform on $\{1,2,\ldots,\theta\}$, then the analysis changes. I think this point should be made clear. $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2019 at 8:22

Please see the Lehmann Scheffe theorem (Theorem 2 in http://www.stat.unc.edu/faculty/cji/lecture9.pdf), which states that if $U$ is a complete sufficient statistic, and $T$ is an unbiased estimator, than $E(T|U)$ is UMVUE. In your case, you have $ T = U $.

Please check your claims about unbiasedness: A variant of your problem is addressed in https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/150586/expected-value-of-max-of-iid-variables?utm_medium=organic&utm_source=google_rich_qa&utm_campaign=google_rich_qa, where one of the answers show that the estimate is in fact biased

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    $\begingroup$ At present this is more of a comment than an answer. You could expand it, perhaps by giving a summary of the information at the link, or you can convert it into a comment. $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2018 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I have added more information. The reason I had left it out in the beginning, because the theorem answers the question almost exactly in the form in which it is posed. $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ ... except for the fact that $X_{(n)}$ is not unbiased! $\endgroup$
    – jbowman
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:32
  • $\begingroup$ Ah! My apologies...I took the author's claim " I managed to show ... is complete sufficient and unbiased" at face value :) $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you're correct on the merits of the question the OP actually asked, even if he's not going to get the answer right when he turns it in! $\endgroup$
    – jbowman
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:43

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