Sampling statement -> Distribution statement

I have made a PR for changing “sampling statement” to “distribution statement” in the Stan reference manual, and tried to clarify the statements chapter. The background is

  • the tilde (~) statement does not do any sampling
  • in the literature tilde (~) is usually read “is distributed as”
  • right side of the tilde (~) statement can only be a built-in or user defined distribution

See more in the PR sampling statement -> distribution statament by avehtari · Pull Request #777 · stan-dev/docs · GitHub or read the rendered Sections 7.3-7.5 at

The change affects only documentation and mostly the reference manual. The “sampling statement” appeared in the user guide a few times. In addition, other repos mention “sampling statement” a few times (including one pedantic mode message), but the change does not affect the language or any of the interfaces at all.

This has been already checked by few people, but as this terms is one of the central concepts when teaching Stan language, I appreciate it if anyone else wants to give feedback on the whole change or the clarity of the new version.



I made a blog post From sampling statement to distribution statement to have a more static note about the change

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