How to Find the F Critical Value in Python

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The F distribution is a probability distribution that is used primarily in analysis of variance (ANOVA), regression analysis, and in testing whether two observed samples have the same variance. It is named after the statistician and biologist Ronald Fisher who extensively used this distribution.

An important concept related to the F distribution is the F critical value, also known as the F statistic. It is a value you compare your test statistic to; if your test statistic is larger, you can reject the null hypothesis.

In the context of ANOVA, it is used to decide whether the variability between group means significantly exceeds the variability within the groups. If the F statistic is significantly larger than 1, it provides evidence against the null hypothesis that all group means are equal.

Python provides functions in the scipy library for finding the F critical value.

Using the F Distribution in Python

Python’s scipy library contains the scipy.stats module, which provides a set of functions and classes for working with various statistical distributions, including the F distribution.

Computing the F Critical Value

The scipy.stats module provides the f.ppf function, which can be used to calculate the F critical value. The ppf stands for ‘Percent Point Function’, which is another name for the quantile function.

The f.ppf function takes in a quantile (probability) and the degrees of freedom and returns the corresponding critical value. Here is an example of how you can use it:

from scipy.stats import f

# Define the degrees of freedom
dfn = 10  # degrees of freedom numerator
dfd = 20  # degrees of freedom denominator

# Define the significance level
alpha = 0.05

# Calculate the critical value
f_critical = f.ppf(1 - alpha, dfn, dfd)

print(f'F Critical Value: {f_critical}')

In this code, dfn is the degrees of freedom of the numerator (between-group variability) and dfd is the degrees of freedom of the denominator (within-group variability). The alpha value represents the significance level.

Plotting the F Distribution

Understanding the F distribution visually can help when dealing with hypothesis tests. Here is how you can plot the F distribution with the critical region:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Generate data from an F-distribution
x = np.linspace(f.ppf(0.01, dfn, dfd), f.ppf(0.99, dfn, dfd), 100)

# Plot the F-distribution
plt.plot(x, f.pdf(x, dfn, dfd), 'r-', lw=5, label='f pdf')

# Highlight the critical region
critical_region = np.linspace(f_critical, x[-1], 100)
plt.fill_between(critical_region, f.pdf(critical_region, dfn, dfd), color='red', alpha=0.3)


In this plot, the red line represents the F distribution, and the shaded area under the curve represents the critical region, where if the test statistic falls, we would reject the null hypothesis.


The F distribution and the F critical value are vital tools in inferential statistics, especially when dealing with variances and ANOVA. Python, specifically the scipy library, provides a powerful and user-friendly interface for working with this distribution and conducting statistical analyses. Understanding the concepts of the F distribution and critical values can provide valuable insights when comparing variances or dealing with complex statistical analyses.

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