Correlation between 3 variables - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-21T09:41:14Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/57998 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/57998/correlation-between-3-variables Correlation between 3 variables Andrei 2011-03-09T21:28:37Z 2011-03-11T19:48:48Z <p>For correlation measurement betweeen 2 variables, I use Pearson formula.</p> <p>What formula can use to find degree of correlation between 3 variables ? My variabes are not symmetric: The correlation in question is between 1st variable and pair of the other two. But I don't have a formula to combine 2nd and 3rd into one variable. Variables have values -1, 0, 1, if it matters. </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/57998/correlation-between-3-variables/58005#58005 Answer by Abdelmalek Abdesselam for Correlation between 3 variables Abdelmalek Abdesselam 2011-03-09T22:35:59Z 2011-03-09T22:35:59Z <p>Maybe you need the theory of cumulants also called semi-invariants. For two random variables $X,Y$ the correlation (or second cumulant) is $v(X,Y)=E(XY)-E(X)E(Y)$ where $E$ denotes the expectation. Pearson's formula makes a dimensionless quantity $$r=\frac{v(X,Y)}{\sqrt{v(X,X) v(Y,Y)}}\ ,$$ i.e., $X$ and $Y$ might have units like centimeters but $r$ is a pure number. The third cumulant generalizes $v(X,Y)$ and measures a correlation of three variables `altogether', i.e., not indirectly resulting from their pairwise correlations. It is $$c(X,Y,Z)=E(XYZ)-E(X)E(YZ)-E(Y)E(XZ)-E(Z)E(XY)$$ $$+2E(X)E(Y)E(Z).$$ However I don't know what the natural or standard dimensionless analog of $r$ would be. A possibility is $$\frac{c(X,Y,Z)}{\sqrt{v(X,X)v(Y,Y)v(Z,Z)}}.$$ All this is about random variables, say discrete given by a finite sample $(x_i,y_i,z_i)$, $1\le i\le N$. Now in statistical estimation you might have things like $1/N$ turning into $1/(N-1)$ in the correct formulas to use.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/57998/correlation-between-3-variables/58050#58050 Answer by Gottfried Helms for Correlation between 3 variables Gottfried Helms 2011-03-10T08:17:42Z 2011-03-10T08:17:42Z <p>I understand the question like the following example. First we consider the correlation of two variables, say age and income of professionals, and expect, that higher age agrees with higher income. Surely we have cases, where this is inverted: older professionals with lower income and/or younger professional with higher income. </p> <p>Then we look at a third variable for instance political/ethical acceptance for that professional by other people, and may assume, that high ethical acceptance is high if age/income agree and acceptance is low if age/income disagree. </p> <p>If such a constellation is asked for, then I would go back to the data and not to the aggregate's parameters. After z-standardizing of <em>income</em> and <em>age</em> I would construct an income/age-agree index <em>agi</em> by multiplying <em>agi = z(income) x z(age)</em> on case level. Then <em>agi</em> has high positive values if either <em>age</em> and <em>income</em> are high positive or if they both are high negative. Then I would correlate <em>z(agi)</em> with <em>z(acceptance)</em>.</p>