Two Sample Testing Based on The 2-Wasserstein Distance

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Testing Procedures

The package waddR provides two testing procedures using the 2-Wasserstein distance to test whether two distributions $F_A$ and $F_B$ given in the form of samples are different by specifically testing the null hypothesis $\mathcal{H}_0: F_A = F_B$ against the alternative $\mathcal{H}_1: F_A \neq F_B$.

The first, semi-parametric (SP), procedure uses a test based on permutations combined with a generalized Pareto distribution approximation to estimate small p-values accurately.

The second procedure (ASY) uses a test based on asymptotic theory which is valid only if the samples can be assumed to come from continuous distributions.


To demonstrate the capabilities of the testing procedures, we consider models based on normal distributions here. We exemplarily construct three cases in which two distributions (samples) differ with respect to location, size, and shape, respectively, and one case without a difference. For convenience, we focus on the p-value, the value of the (squared) 2-wasserstein distance, and the fractions of the location, size, and shape terms (in \%) with respect to the (squared) 2-Wasserstein distance here, while the functions also provide additional output.


spec.output <- c("pval", "d.wass^2", "perc.loc", "perc.size", "perc.shape")

We start with an example, in which the two distributions (samples) only differ with respect to the location, and show the results for the two testing procedures (semi-parametric (SP) and asymptotic theory-based (ASY)).

Please note that the method "SP" with the permnum 10000 is used by default in calls to wasserstein.test if nothing different is specified.

ctrl <- rnorm(300 ,0 ,1)
dd1 <- rnorm(300, 1, 1)
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd1, method="SP", permnum=10000)[spec.output]
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd1, method="ASY")[spec.output]

We obtain a very low p-value, pointing at the existence of a difference, and see that differences with respect to location make up by far the most part of the 2-Wasserstein distance.

Analogously, we look at a case in which the two distributions (samples) only differ with respect to the size.

ctrl <- rnorm(300, 0, 1)
dd2 <- rnorm(300, 0, 2)
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd2)
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd2, method="ASY")

Similarly, we consider an example in which the two distributions (samples) only differ with respect to the shape.

ctrl <- rnorm(300, 6.5, sqrt(13.25))
sam1 <- rnorm(300, 3, 1)
sam2 <- rnorm(300, 10, 1)
dd3 <- sapply(seq(1:300), 
              function(n) {
                sample(c(sam1[n], sam2[n]), 1, prob=c(0.5, 0.5))})
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd3)[spec.output]
wasserstein.test(ctrl, dd3, method="ASY")[spec.output]

Finally, we show an example in which there is no difference between the distributions. We obtain a high p-value, indicating that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected.

ctrl <- rnorm(300, 0, 1)
nodd <- rnorm(300, 0, 1)
wasserstein.test(ctrl, nodd)[spec.output]
wasserstein.test(ctrl, nodd, method="ASY")[spec.output]

Reproducibility of Results

Using the method "SP" (default), the semi-parametric test is performed to obtain p-values. The permutation procedure is based on a random sampling of the input vectors and for the results to be reproducible, a seed can be set from the user environment.

# set seed for reproducible p-values in re-runs
wasserstein.test(sam1, nodd)[spec.output]
# reproduce the result
wasserstein.test(sam1, nodd)[spec.output]

See Also

Session Info


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waddR documentation built on Nov. 8, 2020, 8:32 p.m.