Weighing the Evidence for Hypotheses with Small Samples of Right-censored Exponential Data Academic Article uri icon


  • The p-value evidence for an alternative to a null hypothesis regarding the mean lifetime can be unreliable if based on asymptotic approximations when there is only a small sample of right-censored exponential data. However, a guarded weight of evidence for the alternative can always be obtained without approximation, no matter how small the sample, and has some other advantages over p-values. Weights of evidence are defined as estimators of 0 when the null hypothesis is true and 1 when the alternative is true, and they are judged on the basis of the ensuing risks, where risk is mean squared error of estimation. The evidence is guarded in that a pre-assigned bound is placed on the risk under the hypothesis. Practical suggestions are given for choosing the bound and for interpreting the magnitude of the weight of evidence. Acceptability profiles are obtained by inversion of a family of guarded weights of evidence for two-sided alternatives to point hypotheses, just as confidence intervals are obtained from tests; these profiles are arguably more informative than confidence intervals, and are easily determined for any level and any sample size, however small. They can help understand the effects of different amounts of censoring. They are found for several small size data sets, including a sample of size 12 for post-operative cancer patients. Both singly Type I and Type II censored examples are included. An examination of the risk functions of these guarded weights of evidence suggests that if the censoring time is of the same magnitude as the mean lifetime, or larger, then the risks in using a guarded weight of evidence based on a likelihood ratio are not much larger than they would be if the parameter were known.

publication date

  • January 1, 1997