In statistics, quality assurance, and survey methodology, sampling is the selection of a subset (a statistical sample) of individuals from within a statistical population to estimate characteristics of the whole population. Statisticians attempt to collect samples that are representative of the population in question. Sampling has lower costs and faster data collection than measuring the entire population and can provide insights in cases where it is infeasible to measure an entire population.
Each observation measures one or more properties (such as weight, location, colour or mass) of independent objects or individuals. In survey sampling, weights can be applied to the data to adjust for the sample design, particularly in stratified sampling. Results from probability theory and statistical theory are employed to guide the practice. In business and medical research, sampling is widely used for gathering information about a population. Acceptance sampling is used to determine if a production lot of material meets the governing specifications.