Binomial Distribution: Importance Conditions, Constants

4th May 2021 1 By indiafreenotes

The binomial distribution is a probability distribution that summarizes the likelihood that a value will take one of two independent values under a given set of parameters or assumptions. The underlying assumptions of the binomial distribution are that there is only one outcome for each trial, that each trial has the same probability of success, and that each trial is mutually exclusive, or independent of each other.

In probability theory and statistics, the binomial distribution with parameters n and p is the discrete probability distribution of the number of successes in a sequence of n independent experiments, each asking a yes, no question, and each with its own Boolean-valued outcome: success (with probability p) or failure (with probability q = 1 − p). A single success/failure experiment is also called a Bernoulli trial or Bernoulli experiment, and a sequence of outcomes is called a Bernoulli process; for a single trial, i.e., n = 1, the binomial distribution is a Bernoulli distribution. The binomial distribution is the basis for the popular binomial test of statistical significance.

The binomial distribution is frequently used to model the number of successes in a sample of size n drawn with replacement from a population of size N. If the sampling is carried out without replacement, the draws are not independent and so the resulting distribution is a hypergeometric distribution, not a binomial one. However, for N much larger than n, the binomial distribution remains a good approximation, and is widely used

The binomial distribution is a common discrete distribution used in statistics, as opposed to a continuous distribution, such as the normal distribution. This is because the binomial distribution only counts two states, typically represented as 1 (for a success) or 0 (for a failure) given a number of trials in the data. The binomial distribution, therefore, represents the probability for x successes in n trials, given a success probability p for each trial.

Binomial distribution summarizes the number of trials, or observations when each trial has the same probability of attaining one particular value. The binomial distribution determines the probability of observing a specified number of successful outcomes in a specified number of trials.

The binomial distribution is often used in social science statistics as a building block for models for dichotomous outcome variables, like whether a Republican or Democrat will win an upcoming election or whether an individual will die within a specified period of time, etc.


For example, adults with allergies might report relief with medication or not, children with a bacterial infection might respond to antibiotic therapy or not, adults who suffer a myocardial infarction might survive the heart attack or not, a medical device such as a coronary stent might be successfully implanted or not. These are just a few examples of applications or processes in which the outcome of interest has two possible values (i.e., it is dichotomous). The two outcomes are often labeled “success” and “failure” with success indicating the presence of the outcome of interest. Note, however, that for many medical and public health questions the outcome or event of interest is the occurrence of disease, which is obviously not really a success. Nevertheless, this terminology is typically used when discussing the binomial distribution model. As a result, whenever using the binomial distribution, we must clearly specify which outcome is the “success” and which is the “failure”.

The binomial distribution model allows us to compute the probability of observing a specified number of “successes” when the process is repeated a specific number of times (e.g., in a set of patients) and the outcome for a given patient is either a success or a failure. We must first introduce some notation which is necessary for the binomial distribution model.

First, we let “n” denote the number of observations or the number of times the process is repeated, and “x” denotes the number of “successes” or events of interest occurring during “n” observations. The probability of “success” or occurrence of the outcome of interest is indicated by “p”.

The binomial equation also uses factorials. In mathematics, the factorial of a non-negative integer k is denoted by k!, which is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to k. For example,

  • 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24,
  • 2! = 2 x 1 = 2,
  • 1!=1.
  • There is one special case, 0! = 1.


  • The number of observations n is fixed.
  • Each observation is independent.
  • Each observation represents one of two outcomes (“success” or “failure”).
  • The probability of “success” p is the same for each outcome


Fitting of Binomial Distribution

Fitting of probability distribution to a series of observed data helps to predict the probability or to forecast the frequency of occurrence of the required variable in a certain desired interval.

To fit any theoretical distribution, one should know its parameters and probability distribution. Parameters of Binomial distribution are n and p. Once p and n are known, binomial probabilities for different random events and the corresponding expected frequencies can be computed. From the given data we can get n by inspection. For binomial distribution, we know that mean is equal to np hence we can estimate p as = mean/n. Thus, with these n and p one can fit the binomial distribution.

There are many probability distributions of which some can be fitted more closely to the observed frequency of the data than others, depending on the characteristics of the variables. Therefore, one needs to select a distribution that suits the data well.