## How long is the average piece of string? [closed]

Though the question "how long is a piece of string?" clearly has no answer, it could be possible to estimate the mean length of all pieces of string.

It's a very large (and constantly changing) population set. Can anyone suggest a good method of compiling a reasonably representative random sample?

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Do you have a precise definition of "piece of string"? – S. Carnahan May 3 2010 at 23:07
The downvotes are because how to compile a random sample is a question of statistics methodology, rather than of mathematics. – Daniel Moskovich May 4 2010 at 2:59
It seems a rather intractable problem without any a priori assumptions on the distribution of lengths of strings. Maybe it has fat tails? The existence of a few extremely long strings could skew the average towards the high end, yet you're likely to miss these in your sample. Analogously, it is often said that you are more likely to be killed by a meteorite than winning the jackpot in the lottery. And yet, many people have won the jackpot, and nobody has been killed by meteor strike. A resolution of the paradox is that one meteor strike can kill millions, but jackpot winners are few by design. – Harald Hanche-Olsen May 4 2010 at 3:06