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the selection of part of a total population of consumers or products whose behaviour or performance can be analysed, in order to make inferences about the behaviour or performance of the total population, without the difficulty and expense of undertaking a complete census of the whole population.

Samples may be chosen randomly, with every consumer or product in the population having an equal chance of being included. Random samples are most commonly used by firms in QUALITY CONTROL where they are used as a basis for selecting products, components or materials for quality testing.

Alternatively, samples may be chosen by dividing up the total population into a number of distinct sub-groups or strata, then selecting a proportionate number of consumers or products from each sub-group since this is quicker and cheaper than random sampling. In MARKETING RESEARCH and opinion polling, quota sampling is usually employed where interviewers select the particular consumers to be interviewed, choosing the numbers of these consumers in proportion to their occurrence in the total population.

Samples may be:

  1. cross-sectional, where sample observations are collected at a particular point in time, for example data on company sales and the incomes of consumers in the current year, embracing a wide range of different income groups, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income;
  2. longitudinal, where sample observations are collected over a number of time periods, for example data on changes in company sales over a number of years and changes in consumer incomes over the same time periods, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income. See STATISTICAL INFERENCES, QUESTIONNAIRE.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Handbook begins with an introduction to audio sampling and compression and a detailed description of the internal operation of MP3 (MPEG Audio, Layer III) compression.
The WAU8812 features a robust, high-fidelity, 24-bit signal architecture delivering 93dB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) signal to noise ratio (SNR) and 91dB analog-to-digital converter (ADC) SNR at audio sampling rates from 8KHz to 48KHz.
The CS4270 utilizes a multi-bit Delta Sigma architecture, which provides high-quality analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog data conversion with 24-bit resolution at any standard digital audio sampling rate up to 216 kHz.
Products include subassemblies for integration, industrial displays for specialty markets and video-enhanced quality displays for the corporate, retail point of sale, casino gaming, marine, and digital audio sampling markets.