Sampling is a technique used to arrive at a conclusion about a population by selecting and examining a small proportion of that population. Sampling is used in many ways, including the following:

  • Auditing. Auditors use sampling to verify financial record information, as part of their process of rendering an opinion about a client's financial statements.
  • Polling. Sampling is used by pollsters to extrapolate the opinions of a small group to an entire population.
  • Quality assurance. Sampling is used within the quality assurance function to determine whether a product batch is within its design parameters.

The number of items to sample is determined via a statistical analysis, with samples being selected on either a random or systematic basis. The intent is to arrive at a representative sample that reflects the characteristics of the population from which the sample is drawn.