# How to test if data follows a half-normal distribution?

There are many ways to test if the data comes from normal distribution. like this post

But the question is how to test if the data follows half-normal distribution?

I know Ks-test, but as the post above states: "The KS test is well-known but it has not much power. It can be used for other distribution than the normal."

So is there a more powerful way?(I considered copy the data and set them negative to test for full normal distribution, but this seems a little problematic)

• Why bother with a test? Use a smoother, then superimpose the density curve you believe the distribution follows. A picture is worth a thousand tests. Jun 14, 2021 at 16:11
• To follow up on @AdamO's suggestion, I want to suggest to you the notion that model selection is a relative procedure, not an absolute one. We have no way of knowing whether data "truly" follow a given distribution. What we really care about is whether the data follow a distribution close enough for a given application. A null hypothesis test cannot possibly answer this for you; in fact, null hypothesis testing tells us very little, on the whole. Jun 14, 2021 at 16:19
• Thanks, guys! I totally understands this, and my density curve clearly shows a half-normal dis. But the point is I am curious that is there a general method to test? Because for normal dis, we have Shapiro Wilk. Jun 15, 2021 at 2:31
• The response to 'How do i get more power?' is ... against which kinds of alternatives? Jul 30, 2021 at 4:49

Disclaimer: I am no statistician

However, since I am facing the same problem, let me tell you how I am currently trying to tackle it. My method does not verify that data is distributed half-normally, but only flags cases where this is most likely not the case. Note, however, that my method might well be fundamentally flawed.

# Working Principle

The nice thing about a half-normal distribution is, that it is determined by only one parameter, the standard-deviation of the underlying normal $$\sigma_N$$. Source [1] gives equations to relate the mean $$\mu_H$$, standard deviation $$\sigma_H$$, quantiles etc. of the half-normal to the $$\sigma_N$$. Even more, it gives closed-form equations to obtain $$\sigma_N$$, given $$\mu_H$$ or $$\sigma_H$$. For example we see that $$\sigma_N = \mu_H\sqrt{\frac{\pi}{2}}.$$ This relationship allows us to predict all further datapoints of the distribution just from $$\mu_H$$. This is something we can leverage: For example, we can use it to predict how likely it is to e.g. obtain the measured standard-deviation $$\sigma_H$$ given the mean $$\sigma_N$$.

# Methods

## Method 1: Variance Test (computational)

Since I was not able to find an analytic expression for the distribution of sample-variances of a half-normal distribution (cf. this question), I tried to do solve it using a small Python script:

import numpy as np
def calc_p_var(mean_h: float, n: int, std_h: float, N: int = 100000) -> float:
"""
Estimates the probability to measure the standard-deviation std_h given
half-normal mean mean_h and sample_size n.
"""
#simulate possible outcomes for standard deviations given the mean
std_n = mean_h*np.sqrt(np.pi / 2)
X = np.abs(std_n * np.random.randn(N, n))
stds_exp = np.std(X, axis=1)
values, bins = np.histogram(stds_exp, bins=101)
values = values/N
#determine p
return np.sum(values[bins[1:] <= std_h])


## Method 2: $$L_2$$-Test (analytical)

Based on this idea of Xi'an, we can also use the $$L_2$$ norm, $$\Vert X\Vert_2^2:=\sum_i X_i^2$$ as a test statistic. The reasoning behind this is as follows: If $$X \sim \mathcal{N}(0, \sigma_N)^2$$ and we define $$Y:=\vert X\vert$$, then $$\Vert X \Vert_2^2 \sim \Vert Y \Vert_2^2$$. This implies that $$\frac{\Vert Y \Vert_2^2}{\sigma_N^2} = \frac{\Vert X \Vert_2^2}{\sigma_N^2} \sim \chi^2_n$$ (2, 3). This means that we found an analytic expression for the distribution of $$\Vert Y \Vert_2^2/\sigma_N^2$$ which we can use as a test statistic. In more detail we have that $$\frac{2\Vert Y \Vert_2^2}{\mu_H^2\pi} \sim \chi^2_n.$$

import numpy as np
import scipy.stats

def calc_p_l2(Y: np.ndarray) -> float:
"""
Estimates the probability that a distribution does not originate from a half-normal distribution.
"""
var_n = np.mean(Y)**2 * np.pi / 2
n = len(Y)
chi = np.sum(Y.flatten()**2) / var_n
return scipy.stats.chi2.cdf(chi, n)


I would be really glad if I could some qualified feedback on this method.