The Annals of Statistics

Ball Divergence: Nonparametric two sample test

Wenliang Pan, Yuan Tian, Xueqin Wang, and Heping Zhang

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In this paper, we first introduce Ball Divergence, a novel measure of the difference between two probability measures in separable Banach spaces, and show that the Ball Divergence of two probability measures is zero if and only if these two probability measures are identical without any moment assumption. Using Ball Divergence, we present a metric rank test procedure to detect the equality of distribution measures underlying independent samples. It is therefore robust to outliers or heavy-tail data. We show that this multivariate two sample test statistic is consistent with the Ball Divergence, and it converges to a mixture of $\chi^{2}$ distributions under the null hypothesis and a normal distribution under the alternative hypothesis. Importantly, we prove its consistency against a general alternative hypothesis. Moreover, this result does not depend on the ratio of the two imbalanced sample sizes, ensuring that can be applied to imbalanced data. Numerical studies confirm that our test is superior to several existing tests in terms of Type I error and power. We conclude our paper with two applications of our method: one is for virtual screening in drug development process and the other is for genome wide expression analysis in hormone replacement therapy.

Article information

Ann. Statist., Volume 46, Number 3 (2018), 1109-1137.

Received: November 2015
Revised: February 2017
First available in Project Euclid: 3 May 2018

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Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 62H15: Hypothesis testing
Secondary: 62G10: Hypothesis testing

Ball Divergence Banach space metric rank permutation procedure


Pan, Wenliang; Tian, Yuan; Wang, Xueqin; Zhang, Heping. Ball Divergence: Nonparametric two sample test. Ann. Statist. 46 (2018), no. 3, 1109--1137. doi:10.1214/17-AOS1579.

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