The simplest case to study first is the *sample mean*:

(C.29) |

Here we have defined the sample mean at time as the average of the successive samples up to time --a ``running average''. The true mean is assumed to be the average over any infinite number of samples such as

(C.30) |

or

(C.31) |

Now assume , and let denote the variance of the process ,

Var | (C.32) |

Then the variance of our sample-mean estimator can be calculated as follows:

where we used the fact that the time-averaging operator is linear, and denotes the unbiased autocorrelation of . If is white noise, then , and we obtain

We have derived that the variance of the -sample running average of a white-noise sequence is given by , where denotes the variance of . We found that the variance is inversely proportional to the number of samples used to form the estimate. This is how averaging reduces variance in general: When averaging independent (or merely uncorrelated) random variables, the variance of the average is proportional to the variance of each individual random variable divided by .

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Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford University