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I needed to compute the higher moments of a mixture distribution for a project I’m working on. I’m writing up the code here in case anyone else finds this useful. (And in case I’ll find it useful in the future.) I’ll include the central moments first. From there it’s easy to compute skewness and kurtosis.

Suppose *X* is a mixture of *n* random variables *X**i* with weights *w**i*, non-negative numbers adding to 1. Then the *j*th central moment of *X* is given by

where μ*i* is the mean of *X**i*.

In my particular application, I’m interested in a mixture of normals and so the code below computes the moments for a mixture of normals. It could easily be modified for other distributions.

from scipy.misc import factorialk, comb
def mixture_central_moment(mixture, moment):
'''Compute the higher moments of a mixture of normal rvs.
mixture is a list of (mu, sigma, weight) triples.
moment is the central moment to compute.'''
mix_mean = sum( [w*m for (m, s, w) in mixture] )
mixture_moment = 0.0
for triple in mixture:
mu, sigma, weight = triple
for k in range(moment+1):
prod = comb(moment, k) * (mu-mix_mean)**(moment-k)
prod *= weight*normal_central_moment(sigma, k)
mixture_moment += prod
return mixture_moment
def normal_central_moment(sigma, moment):
'''Central moments of a normal distribution'''
if moment % 2 == 1:
return 0.0
else:
# If Z is a std normal and n is even, E(Z^n) == (n-1)!!
# So E (sigma Z)^n = sigma^n (n-1)!!
return sigma**moment * factorialk(moment-1, 2)

Once we have code for central moments, it’s simple to add code for computing skewness and kurtosis.

def mixture_skew(mixture):
variance = mixture_central_moment(mixture, 2)
third = mixture_central_moment(mixture, 3)
return third / variance**(1.5)
def mixture_kurtosis(mixture):
variance = mixture_central_moment(mixture, 2)
fourth = mixture_central_moment(mixture, 4)
return fourth / variance**2 - 3.0

Here’s an example of how the code might be used.

# Test on a mixture of 30% Normal(-2, 1) and 70% Normal(1, 3)
mixture = [(-2, 1, 0.3), (1, 3, 0.7)]
print "Skewness = ", mixture_skew(mixture)
print "Kurtosis = ", mixture_kurtosis(mixture)