## Introduction

Confidence interval can be used to estimate the population parameter with the help of an interval with some degree of confidence. One such a parameter that can be estimated is a population mean.

In this article we will discuss step by step procedure to construct a confidence interval for population mean when the population standard deviation is unknown.

## Confidence Interval for the mean ($\sigma$ unknown)

Let `$X_1, X_2, \cdots , X_{n}$`

be a random sample of size $n$ from `$N(\mu, \sigma^2)$`

with unknown variance $\sigma^2$.

Let `$\overline{X} = \frac{1}{n} \sum X_i$`

be the sample mean. Let `$s =\sqrt{\frac{1}{n-1}\sum (X_i - \overline{X})^2}$`

be the sample standard deviation.

Let $\alpha$ be the level of significance. Then $(1-\alpha)$ is called the confidence coefficient. We wish to construct a $100(1-\alpha)$% confidence interval of a population mean $\mu$ when $\sigma$ is unknown.

The margin of error for mean is
`$$ \begin{aligned} E = t_{(\alpha/2,n-1)} \frac{s}{\sqrt{n}}. \end{aligned} $$`

Then, $100(1-\alpha)$% confidence interval for population mean (when $\sigma$ unknown) is
`$$ \begin{aligned} \overline{X} - E \leq \mu \leq \overline{X} + E. \end{aligned} $$`

## Assumptions

a. The sample is a simple random sample.

b. The population standard deviation $\sigma$ is unknown.

c. The population is normally distributed or $n<30$.

## Step by Step Procedure

Step by step procedure to estimate the confidence interval for mean is as follows:

### Step 1 Specify the confidence level $(1-\alpha)$

### Step 2 Given information

Specify the given information, sample size $n$, sample mean $\overline{X}$ and sample standard deviation $s$.

### Step 3 Specify the formula

$100(1-\alpha)$% confidence interval for the population mean $\mu$ is
`$$ \begin{aligned} \overline{X} - E \leq \mu \leq \overline{X} + E \end{aligned} $$`

where `$E = Z_{\alpha/2} \frac{s}{\sqrt{n}}$`

.

### Step 4 Determine the critical value

Determine the critical value $t_{(\alpha/2,n-1)}$ from $t$ statistical table that corresponds to the desired confidence level and the degrees of freedom.

### Step 5 Compute the margin of error

The margin of error for mean is
`$$ \begin{aligned} E = t_{(\alpha/2,n-1)} \frac{s}{\sqrt{n}}. \end{aligned} $$`

### Step 6 Determine the confidence interval

`$100(1-\alpha)$%`

confidence interval estimate for population mean is
`$$ \begin{aligned} \overline{X} - E \leq \mu\leq \overline{X} + E \end{aligned} $$`

Equivalently, $100(1-\alpha)$% confidence interval estimate of population mean is $\overline{X} \pm E$ or `$(\overline{X} -E, \overline{X} +E)$`

.

That is $100(1-\alpha)$% confidence interval estimate of population mean (when $\sigma$ unknown) is

`$$\bigg(\overline{X} -t_{(\alpha/2,n-1)} \dfrac{s}{\sqrt{n}}, \overline{X} +t_{(\alpha/2,n-1)} \dfrac{s}{\sqrt{n}}\bigg)$$`