||It has been suggested that Experimental research design be merged into this article or section. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2012.|
In general usage, design of experiments (DOE) or experimental design is the design of any information-gathering exercises where variation is present, whether under the full control of the experimenter or not. However, in statistics, these terms are usually used for controlled experiments. Other types of study, and their design, are discussed in the articles on opinion polls and statistical surveys (which are types of observational study), natural experiments and quasi-experiments (for example, quasi-experimental design). See Experiment for the distinction between these types of experiments or studies.
In the design of experiments, the experimenter is often interested in the effect of some process or intervention (the "treatment") on some objects (the "experimental units"), which may be people, parts of people, groups of people, plants, animals, materials, etc. Design of experiments is thus a discipline that has very broad application across all the natural and social sciences.
Lind selected 12 men from the ship, all suffering from scurvy. Lind limited his subjects to men who "were as similar as I could have them", that is he provided strict entry requirements to reduce extraneous variation. He divided them into six pairs, giving each pair different supplements to their basic diet for two weeks. The treatments were all remedies that had been proposed:
The men who had been given citrus fruits recovered dramatically within a week. One of them returned to duty after 6 days and the other cared for the rest. The others experienced some improvement, but nothing was comparable to the citrus fruits, which were proved to be substantially superior to the other treatments.
A theory of statistical inference was developed by Charles S. Peirce in "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" (1877–1878) and "A Theory of Probable Inference" (1883), two publications that emphasized the importance of randomization-based inference in statistics.
Charles S. Peirce randomly assigned volunteers to a blinded, repeated-measures design to evaluate their ability to discriminate weights. Peirce's experiment inspired other researchers in psychology and education, which developed a research tradition of randomized experiments in laboratories and specialized textbooks in the 1800s.
Charles S. Peirce also contributed the first English-language publication on an optimal design for regression-models in 1876. A pioneering optimal design for polynomial regression was suggested by Gergonne in 1815. In 1918 Kirstine Smith published optimal designs for polynomials of degree six (and less).
The use of a sequence of experiments, where the design of each may depend on the results of previous experiments, including the possible decision to stop experimenting, is within the scope of Sequential analysis, a field that was pioneered by Abraham Wald in the context of sequential tests of statistical hypotheses. Herman Chernoff wrote an overview of optimal sequential designs, while adaptive designs have been surveyed by S. Zacks. One specific type of sequential design is the "two-armed bandit", generalized to the multi-armed bandit, on which early work was done by Herbert Robbins in 1952.
A methodology for designing experiments was proposed by Ronald A. Fisher, in his innovative book The Design of Experiments (1935). As an example, he described how to test the hypothesis that a certain lady could distinguish by flavour alone whether the milk or the tea was first placed in the cup. While this sounds like a frivolous application, it allowed him to illustrate the most important ideas of experimental design:
Random assignment is the process of assigning individuals at random to groups or to different groups in an experiment. The random assignment of individuals to groups (or conditions within a group) distinguishes a rigorous, "true" experiment from an adequate, but less-than-rigorous, "quasi-experiment".
Analysis of the design of experiments was built on the foundation of the analysis of variance, a collection of models in which the observed variance is partitioned into components due to different factors which are estimated or tested.
The weights of eight objects are to be measured using a pan balance and set of standard weights. Each weighing measures the weight difference between objects placed in the left pan vs. any objects placed in the right pan by adding calibrated weights to the lighter pan until the balance is in equilibrium. Each measurement has a random error. The average error is zero; the standard deviations of the probability distribution of the errors is the same number σ on different weighings; and errors on different weighings are independent. Denote the true weights by
We consider two different experiments:
The question of design of experiments is: which experiment is better?
The variance of the estimate X1 of θ1 is σ2 if we use the first experiment. But if we use the second experiment, the variance of the estimate given above is σ2/8. Thus the second experiment gives us 8 times as much precision for the estimate of a single item, and estimates all items simultaneously, with the same precision. What is achieved with 8 weighings in the second experiment would require 64 weighings if items are weighed separately. However, note that the estimates for the items obtained in the second experiment have errors which are correlated with each other.
Many problems of the design of experiments involve combinatorial designs, as in this example.
It is best for a process to be in reasonable statistical control prior to conducting designed experiments. When this is not possible, proper blocking, replication, and randomization allow for the careful conduct of designed experiments. To control for nuisance variables, researchers institute control checks as additional measures. Investigators should ensure that uncontrolled influences (e.g., source credibility perception) are measured do not skew the findings of the study. A manipulation check is one example of a control check. Manipulation checks allow investigators to isolate the chief variables to strengthen support that these variables are operating as planned.
Some efficient designs for estimating several main effects simultaneously were found by Raj Chandra Bose and K. Kishen in 1940 at the Indian Statistical Institute, but remained little known until the Plackett-Burman designs were published in Biometrika in 1946. About the same time, C. R. Rao introduced the concepts of orthogonal arrays as experimental designs. This was a concept which played a central role in the development of Taguchi methods by Genichi Taguchi, which took place during his visit to Indian Statistical Institute in early 1950s. His methods were successfully applied and adopted by Japanese and Indian industries and subsequently were also embraced by US industry albeit with some reservations.
In 1950, Gertrude Mary Cox and William Gemmell Cochran published the book Experimental Designs which became the major reference work on the design of experiments for statisticians for years afterwards.
Developments of the theory of linear models have encompassed and surpassed the cases that concerned early writers. Today, the theory rests on advanced topics in linear algebra, algebra and combinatorics.
As with other branches of statistics, experimental design is pursued using both frequentist and Bayesian approaches: In evaluating statistical procedures like experimental designs, frequentist statistics studies the sampling distribution while Bayesian statistics updates a probability distribution on the parameter space.
Some important contributors to the field of experimental designs are C. S. Peirce, R. A. Fisher, F. Yates, C. R. Rao, R. C. Bose, J. N. Srivastava, Shrikhande S. S., D. Raghavarao, W. G. Cochran, O. Kempthorne, W. T. Federer, V. V. Fedorov, A. S. Hedayat, J. A. Nelder, R. A. Bailey, J. Kiefer, W. J. Studden, A. Pázman, F. Pukelsheim, D. R. Cox, H. P. Wynn, A. C. Atkinson, G. E. P. Box and G. Taguchi. The textbooks of D. Montgomery and R. Myers have reached generations of students and practitioners.
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