6
$\begingroup$

I have heard about Categorical distribution and Categorical variables in statistics. But what is a Categorial variable? Can both Categorial and Categorical be used interchangeably? Are there specific cases in which we use either of these terms?

$\endgroup$
6
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ "Categorial" is a common typographical error (especially among non-native English writers). Right up there in frequency is "binominal" (a technical term in other fields that is wholly absent in statistical literature) for "binomial." $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Jun 30 at 12:21
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Categorial is also used in philosophy, as witness Stephan Körner's book Categorial Frameworks. To the point, this is misquoted by Wikipedia as Categorical. But I agree: the term categorical is utterly standard in statistics for this meaning. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Jun 30 at 14:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Categorial is uncommon, but still too common to be solely a typographic or an idiosyncratic error. (I've never seen historial or the like.) It must have some currency as a variant form of categorical in English; or in another language, in which perhaps analogues of categorical & categorial have more distinct senses. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 16:51
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Ah! .... kategorische in German corresponds to categorical in the sense of "absolute", "unconditional", or "unqualified"; kategorial to categorical in the sense we're here concerned with. So de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kategoriale_Variable. In French there seems to be a similar distinction between catégorique & catégoriel - fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_cat%C3%A9gorielle. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 19:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Aadi: Yes - categorial even sometimes makes it into published work - Gertheiss & Tutz (2010), "Sparse modeling of categorial variables", Ann. App. Stat., 4, 4. That's not a typo in the title - the authors are from Munich University & use categorial throughout the paper. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 11:56

2 Answers 2

15
$\begingroup$

I have literally never heard 'categorial' (without the second C) and assumed that this was a typo. But some googling does indicate that this word is used - in linguistics.

In statistics, as far as I know, we only use categorical.

As mild support for this claim, if one googles 'categorial statistics', Google assumes you've made a typo and returns only results for 'categorical statistics'.

Also, searching for 'categorial' on wikipedia returns no links, but the closest suggestion is 'categorial grammar' (again, about language/syntax). In contrast, searching for 'categorical' returns a bunch of suggestions including several articles about statistics (specifically categorical data), maths and logic.

EDIT: This excellent comment by Scortchi may have tracked down the origin of the confusion to German and French distinctions that are mostly absent in English.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. I recently saw someone using 'Catergorial variables' while talking about Loss functions. Also, both words seem to be having the same meaning. 'Categorical' seem to be more prominent in the web. $\endgroup$
    – Aadi
    Jun 30 at 9:26
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Second. In math I've never seen "Catergorial". I think in English that word is almost never used. $\endgroup$
    – High GPA
    Jun 30 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah but please don't use Google typo suggestions as evidence, however mild, for anything. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 11:53
5
$\begingroup$

I second mkt's answer; this is a long comment rather than an answer. In math I've never seen "Categorial".

Also, I think in English that word is rarely used. The frequency is about 20 times less than the proper word "categorical" enter image description here

I asked a question here and English experts will surely help us.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.