Errors and Residuals

In statistics and optimization, errors and residuals are two closely related and easily confused measures of the deviation of an observed value of an element of a statistical sample from its "theoretical value". The error (or disturbance) of an observed value is the deviation of the observed value from the (unobservable) true value of a quantity of interest (for example, a population mean), and the residual of an observed value is the difference between the observed value and the estimated value of the quantity of interest (for example, a sample mean). The distinction is most important in regression analysis, where the concepts are sometimes called the regression errors and regression residuals and where they lead to the concept of studentized residuals.

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