The lognormal distribution is useful in modeling continuous random variables which are greater than or equal to zero. Example scenarios in which the lognormal distribution is used include, among many others: in medicine, latent periods of infectious diseases; in environmental science, the distribution of particles, chemicals, and organisms in the environment; in linguistics, the number of letters per word and the number of words per sentence; and in economics, age of marriage, farm size, and income. The lognormal distribution is also useful in modeling data which would be considered normally distributed except for the fact that it may be more or less skewed (Limpert, Stahel, and Abbt 2001). Appropriately estimating the parameters of the lognormal distribution is vital for the study of these and other subjects. Depending on the values of its parameters, the lognormal distribution takes on various shapes, including a bell-curve similar to the normal distribution. This paper contains a simulation study concerning the effectiveness of various estimators for the parameters of the lognormal distribution. A comparison is made between such parameter estimators as Maximum Likelihood estimators, Method of Moments estimators, estimators by Serfling (2002), as well as estimators by Finney (1941). A simulation is conducted to determine which parameter estimators work better in various parameter combinations and sample sizes of the lognormal distribution. We find that the Maximum Likelihood and Finney estimators perform the best overall, with a preference given to Maximum Likelihood over the Finney estimators because of its vast simplicity. The Method of Moments estimators seem to perform best when σ is less than or equal to one, and the Serfling estimators are quite accurate in estimating μ but not σ in all regions studied. Finally, these parameter estimators are applied to a data set counting the number of words in each sentence for various documents, following which a review of each estimator's performance is conducted. Again, we find that the Maximum Likelihood estimators perform best for the given application, but that Serfling's estimators are preferred when outliers are present.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Statistics
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Ginos, Brenda Faith, "Parameter Estimation for the Lognormal Distribution" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1928.
Lognormal distribution, maximum likelihood, method of moments, robust estimation