How do you measure the central tendency of a cauchy distribution?

I'm aware that the mean is not a good measure of the central location for cauchy. Can I use median?

I've been searching with the key word: central "tendency" of "cauchy" distribution stackexchange for a long time, and found no satisfactory answer that states how I can measure central tendency of Cauchy distribution. Everybody says that "there exists techniques that deals with...bla...bla..." that never gives a solid example of what there are.

Can someone give me an actual example?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia on Cauchy Dist'n under Estimation: "One simple method is to take the median value of the sample as an estimator of $x_{0}$ [center]... Other, more precise and robust methods have been developed. For example, the truncated mean of the middle 24% of the sample order statistics produces an estimate for $x_{0}$ that is more efficient than using either the sample median or the full sample mean. $\endgroup$
    – BruceET
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ Also, because the density function is positive at the median, the distribution of the sample median is asymptotically normal for increasing sample size. $\endgroup$
    – BruceET
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ My first search of this site for Cauchy tendency yielded several good answers. Variants of this search produce even more. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


This may not be the best example of the claim in my Comment, but here are estimates of the center $10$ of a Cauchy with scale parameter 1.

Medians and trimmed means were found (in R) for a million samples of size $n = 100.$ The standard deviation of the trimmed means is a little smaller.

h = replicate(10^6, median(rcauchy(100,10)))
mean(h); sd(h)
[1] 9.999961
[1] 0.1585856
a.t = replicate(10^6, mean(rcauchy(100,10), tr=.38))
mean(a.t); sd(a.t)
[1] 10.00004
[1] 0.1535004

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Sampling doesn't seem to have anything to do with a question that is solely about a distribution. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ Pondered that, but "Everybody says that 'there exists techniques that deals with...bla...bla...' that never gives a solid example of what there are." made me think OP was asking about estimation. // For the dist'n, isn't the center just the median without further discussion? $\endgroup$
    – BruceET
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ I, too, found the question to be unclear. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:47

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