A confidence interval is an interval defined by two values, called confidence limits, calculated from sample data using a procedure which ensures that the unknown true value of the quantity of interest falls between such calculated values in a specified percentage of samples.

Commonly, the specified percentage is 95%; the resulting confidence interval is then called a 95% confidence interval. A one-sided confidence interval is defined by a single calculated value called an upper (or lower) confidence limit. "The numerical interval constructed around a point estimate of a population parameter, combined with a probability statement (the confidence coefficient) linking it to the population's true parameter value. If the same confidence interval construction technique and assumptions are used to calculate future intervals, they will include the unknown population parameter with the same specified probability" (QAMS 1993, 6). (See related: confidence coefficient.)

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