Probability Distribution Explained: Formula, Types, and Uses 


As an interdisciplinary field, Data Science has gained popularity. It extracts relevant facts and insights from structured, unstructured, and semi-structured datasets using scientific approaches, algorithms, methods, and tools. Companies expand their businesses, improve production, and anticipate customer needs using these data and insights. When performing data analysis and preparing a dataset for model training, it is essential to consider the probability distribution. 

Companies implementing best-in-class probability distribution processes in their sales forecasting achieved success 97% of the time, compared with 55% that did not. Please continue reading this article to learn more about the explanation of probability distribution, probability distribution types, and uses. 

Define Probability  

The definition of probability is a calculation of the likelihood that something will happen. Using the basic probability theory, you will learn the possible outcomes of a random experiment. As a first step toward determining how likely a single event will occur, we must determine how many possible outcomes there are. 

Probability is the measure of how possible it is that an event will occur. It is impossible to predict every event perfectly. Using it, we can only expect the possibility of an event, i.e., how likely it is. An event can happen with a probability of 0 to 1, with 0 indicating an impossible event and 1 indicating a particular event. A sample space has a probability of 1 for all occasions. 

If we toss a coin, we can get Head or Tail; there are only two possible outcomes (H, T). The four possible outcomes of tossing two coins will be (H, H), (H, T), (T, H), and (T, T). 

What Are Probability Distributions?  

Probability distributions describe the random variables with a range of possible values and likelihoods. Based on the number of factors, the probability distribution will likely plot this potential value in the right place. Still, the range will have a minimum and maximum value. There are several factors to consider when analyzing the distribution, such as its mean (average), standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis. 

Process of Probability Distribution 

Many probability distributions exist, but the normal distribution, or “bell curve,” is perhaps the most common. Typically, the data generation process determines a phenomenon’s probability distribution. Probability density functions describe this process. 

You can also use probability distributions to calculate cumulative distribution functions (CDFs), which add up the probabilities cumulatively and start and end at zero. 

Academics can use the probability distribution of a particular stock, financial analysts, and fund managers to evaluate potential future returns. Using a stock’s history of returns, you can measure from any time interval, which will likely include only a fraction of the stock’s returns, which means sampling error will affect the analysis. A larger sample size can dramatically reduce this error. 

Types of Probability Distributions 

There are two types of probability distributions: 

  • Discrete Probability Distributions 
  • Continuous Probability Distributions 

1. Discrete Probability Distribution 

A discrete distribution describes the probability of each value of a discrete random variable occurring. One example of a discrete probability distribution is the number of spoiled apples in your refrigerator out of six. 

A non-zero probability is associated with each possible value of the discrete random variable in a discrete probability distribution. 

Here are some critical probability distribution functions. 

  • Binomial Distribution
    A binomial distribution has a finite number of possibilities and is discrete. A binomial distribution emerges from a series of Bernoulli trials. Scientific experiments with only two outcomes are known as Bernoulli trials. A biased coin is tossed six times with a 0.4 percent chance of getting head in a random experiment. A binomial distribution will show the probability of ‘getting a head’ for each value of r if ‘getting a head’ is considered a success. Binomial random variables represent the number of successes (r) in n consecutive independent Bernoulli trials. 
  • Bernoulli’s Distribution
    Unlike the Binomial distribution, the Bernoulli distribution only produces one observation after a single experiment. Due to this, the Bernoulli distribution describes events with two outcomes exactly. P is also known as the Bernoulli distribution’s parameter, the expected value of the Bernoulli random variable. There can be a 0 or 1 for the experiment’s outcome. There are two possible values for Bernoulli random variables: 0 and 1. 
  • Poisson Distribution
    Poisson distributions are probability distributions used in statistics to show how often an event will occur over some time. A count distribution is another way of putting it. In addition to describing independent events at a constant rate, Poisson distributions can also reflect the frequency at which these events occur over time. A French mathematician called Siméon Denis Poisson gave it its name. 

2. Continuous Probability Distributions 

A continuous distribution describes probabilities of possible values for a continuous random variable. In continuous random variables, there are infinite possible values (known as the range). There is a wide range of times for continuous probability distributions, ranging from a few seconds to billions of years. 

To calculate probability, you use the area under the curve of a continuous random variable. Due to this, only non-zero probabilities are possible for value ranges, and continuous random variables have a zero chance of equaling some value. 

Here are some examples of continuous probability distributions. 

  • Normal Distribution
    The most basic of all continuous distributions is Normal Distribution. It is also known as a Gaussian distribution. Probability distributions are symmetrical around their mean values. Furthermore, it shows that data near the mean are more frequent than those far from it. A finite variance and a zero mean are present. 
  • Continuous Uniform Distribution
    There is an equal chance of all outcomes in a continuous uniform distribution. The chances of hitting each variable are equal. In this symmetric probabilistic distribution, random variables are spaced evenly, with a probability of 1/(b-a). 
  • Log-Normal Distribution
    A continuous probability distribution of a random variable with a normally distributed logarithm is known as a lognormal distribution. As a result, a normal distribution exists if the random variable has a lognormal distribution. In the same way, if a distribution is normal, a lognormal distribution follows. 
  • Exponential Distribution
    Poisson processes use exponential distributions as a continuous probability distribution describing the interval between events (success, failure, arrival, etc.). 

Applications of Probability Distribution 

In statistics, a probability distribution shows the possible outcomes of a particular course of action or event and the statistical likelihood of each product. A company can calculate the probability of sales changing due to a marketing campaign. There is a much lower probability of the values occurring at the left and right ends of the distribution than those in the middle. 

1. Scenario Analysis 

It is possible to create scenario analyses using probability distributions. A scenario analysis creates multiple, theoretically distinct outcomes based on a particular course of action. Suppose a business makes three scenarios: worst-case, likely, and best-case. There would be some value in the worst-case scenario that came from the lower end of the probability distribution; a value in the possible system would come from the middle, and a value in the best-case method would come from the upper end. 

2. Sales Forecasting 

Probability distributions and scenario analysis are valuable tools for predicting future sales levels in business. Businesses must still be able to plan for the future despite the inability to predict precise sales levels. With scenario analysis based on probability distributions, a company can understand its likely future sales levels and worst-case and best-case scenarios. Thus, the company can plan its business based on the possible system while remaining aware of alternative methods. 

3. Risk Evaluation 

It is also possible to assess risk and predict future sales levels using probability distributions. Consider, for instance, a company considering expanding its business. Suppose the company needs to generate $500,000 in revenue to break even, and its probability distribution tells them there is a 10 percent chance that payments will be less than $500,000. In that case, it has some idea of what level of risk it faces if it decides to pursue that new business line. 

Probability Distribution – Example 

Consider the number observed when rolling two six-sided dice as a simple example of a probability distribution. There is a 1/6 probability that each die will move any number from one to six, but if you add two dice, you can form the probability distribution. There are seven most common outcomes (1 6, 6 1, 5 2, 2 5, 3 4, 4 3). On the other hand, a probability of two and twelve is much lower (1 1 and 6 6). 


Many fields hire data scientists, including computer science, health care, insurance, engineering, and even social science, where probability distributions are standard tools. Data analysts and data scientists need to understand statistics, while data analysis and algorithm training require Probability Distributions for preparing datasets. 

A career in data analytics may be an option. A career in data analytics would be an excellent choice for those interested in this topic and related statistical concepts; consider a career in data analytics. It is challenging to find a more comprehensive online program for Data Analytics Certification.   

UNext Jigsaw’s Integrated Program in Business Analytics, in collaboration with IIM Indore, is one of the most robust learning opportunities. With its exhaustive curriculum, designed and delivered by the best in the country experts, this program is curated to get you industry ready. 

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