Optimal allocation is a procedure for dividing the sample among the strata in a stratified sample survey. The allocation procedure is called "optimal" because in a particular survey sampling design (stratified simple random sampling) it produces the smallest variance for estimating a population mean and total (using the standard stratified estimator) given a fixed budget or sample size.

A sample survey collects data from a population in order to estimate population characteristics. A stratified sample selects separate samples from subgroups (called "strata") of the population and can often increase the accuracy of survey results. In order to implement stratified sampling, it is necessary to be able to divide the population at least implicitly into strata before sampling. Given a budget that allows gathering data on n ...

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