Questions tagged [etymology]

For questions about the history and the origin of statistical terms.

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Etymology of "Factor" in Factor Analysis

What is the etymology of the term "factor" in factor analysis? Was it chosen to denote mathematical factoring (choosing a common divisor or the product of other values)? Or perhaps a factor ...
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1 answer
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Why is Elastic Net called Elastic Net?

What is the etymology of "Elastic Net" in Elastic Net Regularization? Does it have anything to do with the name of "lasso"? Related: Why is ridge regression called "ridge&...
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Estimator bias versus sampling bias

When teaching a course, what is the best way to explain/call sampling bias? I don't know any synonyms for this and it seems the consensus on here is that the word bias should be reserved for the ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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In what sense did "average" ever come to mean a statistical quantity?

I was researching the etymology of "average" to enlighten the debate as to whether "average" can in fact mean a "median" (or if the presenter was merely trying to sweep up their tracks so to speak). I ...
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Origin and spelling of (multi)collinear/colinear

Multicollinear and multicolinear both appear to be used in scientific literature, although the former appears to be a lot more popular and is also the name of the tag here. I figured there must be a ...
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7 votes
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Why is the coefficient of determination ($R^2$) so called?

I have a very hard time remembering terms if I don't at least have some idea of their etymology or what other concepts in the field they relate to. "Determination" doesn't seem to have any meaning ...
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15 votes
3 answers
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What does the "machine" in "support vector machine" and "restricted Boltzmann machine" mean?

Why are they called "machines"? Is there an origin to the word "machine" used in this context? (Like the name "linear programming" can be confusing but we know why it is called "programming.")
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Why is the logistic distribution called "logistic"?

What is "logistic" about the logistic distribution, in a common sense way? What is the etymology of and the lexical rationale for the name, not just pure math definition?
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Why is it called the "standard" deviation?

I have a simple - and possibly obviously trivial - question: why is the standard deviation called just that, "standard"? Is it because it standardizes the comparison of data sets and results with ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Etymology of "cluster" in the context of cluster analysis

I'm trying to track down the origins of the word "cluster" and its usage in the context of cluster analysis. Please, does anyone know when and by whom it was first used? Perhaps there was a paper or ...
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Why are there two spellings of "heteroskedastic" or "heteroscedastic"?

I frequently see both the spellings "heteroskedastic" and "heteroscedastic", and similarly for "homoscedastic" and "homoskedastic". There seems to be no difference in meaning between the "c" and the "...
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Why is ridge regression called "ridge", why is it needed, and what happens when $\lambda$ goes to infinity?

Ridge regression coefficient estimate $\hat{\beta}^R$ are the values that minimize the $$ \text{RSS} + \lambda \sum_{j=1}^p\beta_j^2. $$ My questions are: If $\lambda = 0$, then we see that the ...
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Why is the semi-partial correlation sometimes called the "part correlation"?

I understand the difference between partial correlation and semi-partial and zero-order correlation. This terminology makes sense to me in that the partial correlation of X and Y partials out the ...
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13 votes
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Etymology of "t" in t-test and t-distribution

I am aware of the fact that Gosset came up with t-distribution, but what is the etymology of "t"? How did "t" end up in t-test and t-distribution?
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Why are regression problems called "regression" problems?

I was just wondering why regression problems are called "regression" problems. What is the story behind the name? One definition for regression: "Relapse to a less perfect or developed state."
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