# Re: Help wanted with log-normal distribution.

• Subject: Re: Help wanted with log-normal distribution.
• From: thompson(at)orpheus.nascom.nasa.gov (William Thompson)
• Date: 27 Jan 2000 16:51:53 GMT
• Newsgroups: comp.lang.idl,comp.lang.idl-pvwave
• Organization: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (skates.gsfc.nasa.gov)
• References: <Pine.GSO.3.96.1000126164924.22315A-100000@mimsey>
• Xref: news.doit.wisc.edu comp.lang.idl:1724 comp.lang.idl-pvwave:18153

```Helen-Louise Windsor <hlw@ic.ac.uk> writes:

>Could anyone tell me whether IDL has a built-in command for generating a
>log-normal distribution, as I have been unable to find one?

>Failing that, would anyone be able to give me a fragment of code which
>will generate a log-normal distribution when given the two parameters?
>The reason I am asking is that I have typed in the pdf for a log-normal
>distribution from http://mathworld.wolfram.com/LogNormalDistribution.html
>but have:
>1) obtained probabilities greater than 1
>2) obtained a maximum probability at a value of x much greater than the
>mean.

Helen:

First of all, I'm assuming that you're asking about the Interactive Data
Language package from RSI.  The proper newsgroup for that is
comp.lang.idl-pvwave, so I'm cross-posting my answer there.  It may be that
somebody on that group has a better answer than I'm able to get you.

First of all, I'm a little confused as to what you're trying to do.  The
equations given on the above web site look to be relatively simple to implement
within IDL.  For example, the probability density function can be calculated as

IDL> p=exp(-(alog(x)-M)^2/(2*S^2))/(x*S*sqrt(2*!pi))

with the caveat that x is greater than 0.  (For x=0, simply set p=0.)
Similarly, the cumulative distribution function can be implemented as

IDL> d=0.5*(1+errorf((alog(x)-M)/(S*sqrt(2))))

with the same caveat.

Alternatively, are you trying to generate a series of random numbers with this
particular probability distribution.  I haven't thought this through
completely, but it sounds like one could generate a series of random numbers
using RANDOMN and then taking the exponential, e.g.

IDL> Y = exp(A+B*randomn(seed,N))

with appropriate selections for A and B.  On the other hand, I could be wrong,
and maybe somebody can suggest a more appropriate solution.

Another way to generate a series of random numbers with any arbitrary
probability distribution between two limits is as follows:

1.  Generate pairs of random numbers, labeled X and Y, where X is
evenly distributed between Xmin and Xmax, and Y is evenly
distributed between 0 and 1.

2.  For each random number X, calculate the probability distribution
function P(X).

3.  Throw out all pairs for which Y is greater than P(X).

This is rather brute force, and more computationally intensive, but it can
replicate any probability distribution.  It does have the drawback that one has
to specify limits, so that the tail of the distribution isn't replicated, but
presumably one can set the limits so that this doesn't matter (much).  Of
course, the larger the limits, the more pairs have to be thrown away.

Hope this helps,

William Thompson

```