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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 ?
When you start Windows, the ``add new hardware wizard'' should automatically sense your uninstalled sound card, and attempt to install it.
I recommend a sound card that is Sound Blaster compatible as it can cope with almost any game.
You also need MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) software to make the sound card work.
More file flexibility should be required of the purchased sound card.
The $59 product also can be used to record spoken notes, which can be attached to a file--so a colleague whose computer also has a sound card and the right software can hear your voice note.
Custom-Designed Sound Cards Can Help Businesses Stand Out
Sound card producer TerraTec Electronic has announced the immediate availability of its DMX 6fire LT sound card.
Sound card manufacturer TerraTec Electronic has released the DMX 6fire 24/96 sound card.
5mm interface also makes it a great choice for use with a PC that has a high-quality sound card.
0 requires a computer running at least a 400 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM,10 MB free hard drive disk space, sound card, speakers, microphone and an Internet connection.
Famous for its Sound Blaster sound cards and for launching the multimedia revolution, Creative is now driving digital entertainment on the PC platform with products like its highly acclaimed Zen and MuVo portable audio players.
1 external sound card, CD containing drivers and control panel applications, neck strap and USB cable are also included in the package.