# Relating Binomial and Negative Binomial

The negative binomial distribution has a natural intepretation as a waiting time until the arrival of the rth success (when the parameter r is a positive integer). The waiting time refers to the number of independent Bernoulli trials needed to reach the rth success. This interpretation of the negative binomial distribution gives us a good way of relating it to the binomial distribution. For example, if the rth success takes place after $k$ failed Bernoulli trials (for a total of $k+r$ trials), then there can be at most $r-1$ successes in the first $k+r$ trials. This tells us that the survival function of the negative binomial distribution is the cumulative distribution function (cdf) of a binomial distribution. In this post, we gives the details behind this observation. A previous post on the negative binomial distribution is found here.

A random experiment resulting in two distinct outcomes (success or failure) is called a Bernoulli trial (e.g. head or tail in a coin toss, whether or not the birthday of a customer is the first of January, whether an insurance claim is above or below a given threshold etc). Suppose a series of independent Bernoulli trials are performed until reaching the rth success where the probability of success in each trial is $p$. Let $X_r$ be the number of failures before the occurrence of the rth success. The following is the probablity mass function of $X_r$.

$\displaystyle (1) \ \ \ \ P(X_r=k)=\binom{k+r-1}{k} p^r (1-p)^k \ \ \ \ \ \ k=0,1,2,3,\cdots$

Be definition, the survival function and cdf of $X_r$ are:

$\displaystyle (2) \ \ \ \ P(X_r > k)=\sum \limits_{j=k+1}^\infty \binom{j+r-1}{j} p^r (1-p)^j \ \ \ \ \ \ k=0,1,2,3,\cdots$

$\displaystyle (3) \ \ \ \ P(X_r \le k)=\sum \limits_{j=0}^k \binom{j+r-1}{j} p^r (1-p)^j \ \ \ \ \ \ k=0,1,2,3,\cdots$

For each positive integer $k$, let $Y_{r+k}$ be the number of successes in performing a sequence of $r+k$ independent Bernoulli trials where $p$ is the probability of success. In other words, $Y_{r+k}$ has a binomial distribution with parameters $r+k$ and $p$.

If the random experiment requires more than $k$ failures to reach the rth success, there are at most $r-1$ successes in the first $k+r$ trails. Thus the survival function of $X_r$ is the same as the cdf of a binomial distribution. Equivalently, the cdf of $X_r$ is the same as the survival function of a binomial distribution. We have the following:

\displaystyle \begin{aligned}(4) \ \ \ \ P(X_r > k)&=P(Y_{k+r} \le r-1) \\&=\sum \limits_{j=0}^{r-1} \binom{k+r}{j} p^j (1-p)^{k+r-j} \ \ \ \ \ \ k=0,1,2,3,\cdots \end{aligned}

\displaystyle \begin{aligned}(5) \ \ \ \ P(X_r \le k)&=P(Y_{k+r} > r-1) \ \ \ \ \ \ k=0,1,2,3,\cdots \end{aligned}

Remark
The relation $(4)$ is analogous to the relationship between the Gamma distribution and the Poisson distribution. Recall that a Gamma distribution with shape parameter $\alpha$ and scale parameter $n$, where $n$ is a positive integer, can be interpreted as the waiting time until the nth change in a Poisson process. Thus, if the nth change takes place after time $t$, there can be at most $n-1$ arrivals in the time interval $[0,t]$. Thus the survival function of this Gamma distribution is the same as the cdf of a Poisson distribution. The relation $(4)$ is analogous to the following relation.

$\displaystyle (5) \ \ \ \ \int_t^\infty \frac{\alpha^n}{(n-1)!} \ x^{n-1} \ e^{-\alpha x} \ dx=\sum \limits_{j=0}^{n-1} \frac{e^{-\alpha t} \ (\alpha t)^j}{j!}$

A previous post on the negative binomial distribution is found here.