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Are there generalizations of common hypothesis tests (e.g. t-test, mann-whitney) that can take into account different confidences in the sample measurements?

For example, if I have two sets of measurements:

A = [1, 5, 2, 6, 8, 9, 2]

B = [2, 7, 1, 6, 9, 7, 6]

and a given set of sample-specific measurement errors (different from the sampling error):

e_A = [0.2, 0.3, 0.1, 0.4, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3]

e_B = [0.1, 0.1, 0.1, 0.3, 0.2, 0.2, 0.1]

(these can be a standard deviation or the width of a confidence interval around the measurement, e.g. the true measure of $A[i]$ is inside the interval $[A[i]-e_A[i], A[i]+e_A[i]]$ with some probability $p$)

Is there a way to account for the heterogeneity in confidence/uncertainty concerning each measurement when running such a hypothesis test?

Similarly, are there hypothesis tests that can work with intervals (i.e. instead of a measurement $a$, we are testing sets of intervals $[a_1, a_2]$ that contain the true measurement with some probability)?

I have done some review of the literature and other posts but haven't quite found anything that would address this type of setup. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you could consider an error-in-variables model. The t-test is a special case of general linear models. You can also have error-in-variables for Mann-Whitney U. $\endgroup$
    – Galen
    Jan 19, 2023 at 16:09

1 Answer 1

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Error-In-Measurements

You could consider an error-in-variables model. The t-test is a special case of general linear models. You can also have error-in-variables for Mann-Whitney U.

Here is a toy example of simulating the error-in-variables assuming a normal distribution with a diagonal covariance.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
from scipy import stats

# Parameters
A = [1, 5, 2, 6, 8, 9, 2]
B = [2, 7, 1, 6, 9, 7, 6]

e_A = [0.2, 0.3, 0.1, 0.4, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3]
e_B = [0.1, 0.1, 0.1, 0.3, 0.2, 0.2, 0.1]


# Resample statistic with error
k = 10000
resample_A = np.random.multivariate_normal(A, np.diag(e_A), size=k)
resample_B = np.random.multivariate_normal(B, np.diag(e_B), size=k)

t_results = stats.ttest_ind(resample_A, resample_B, axis=1)
U_results = stats.mannwhitneyu(resample_A, resample_B, axis=1)

# Plot results
fig, axes = plt.subplots(2,2)

axes[0][0].set_title('t-Score')
axes[0][0].hist(t_results[0])

axes[0][1].set_title('p-value (t-test)')
axes[0][1].hist(t_results[1])

axes[1][0].set_title('U-Score')
axes[1][0].hist(U_results[0])

axes[1][1].set_title('p-value (U-test)')
axes[1][1].hist(U_results[1])

plt.tight_layout()
plt.show()

enter image description here

Interval Arithmetic

As for interval arithmetic, you'll have to decide how turn those measurement error terms into intervals. Once you have intervals, you just go through the same computations as you would with scalars but being mindful of when you are performing non-monotonic functions (mainly the squaring in computing the standard deviation).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the helpful response. From my understanding, error-in-variable models don't usually take in explicit errors for each observation but rather some parametric assumptions of the error distribution in the independent variables (i.e. normality, covariance with dependent variable, etc). Is this correct and can they still be adapted to the case above where we have known errors for each observation? $\endgroup$
    – tooty44
    Jan 19, 2023 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Also, in the example that you have shown with repeated sampling from the normal distributions to obtain a distribution of p-values, is there an intuitive interpretation of what these p-value distributions would mean? For example, if I disregard the uncertainties, I can get a p-value $p_1$ that tells me the probability of as or more extreme events under the null. For the distribution of p-values if we were to summarize it with the mean or median p-value (say $p_2$), is there a similar interpretation? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – tooty44
    Jan 19, 2023 at 22:22

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