Summary
In statistics, the multiple comparisons, multiplicity or multiple testing problem occurs when one considers a set of statistical inferences simultaneously or infers a subset of parameters selected based on the observed values. The more inferences are made, the more likely erroneous inferences become. Several statistical techniques have been developed to address that problem, typically by requiring a stricter significance threshold for individual comparisons, so as to compensate for the number of inferences being made. The problem of multiple comparisons received increased attention in the 1950s with the work of statisticians such as Tukey and Scheffé. Over the ensuing decades, many procedures were developed to address the problem. In 1996, the first international conference on multiple comparison procedures took place in Tel Aviv. Multiple comparisons arise when a statistical analysis involves multiple simultaneous statistical tests, each of which has a potential to produce a "discovery". A stated confidence level generally applies only to each test considered individually, but often it is desirable to have a confidence level for the whole family of simultaneous tests. Failure to compensate for multiple comparisons can have important real-world consequences, as illustrated by the following examples: Suppose the treatment is a new way of teaching writing to students, and the control is the standard way of teaching writing. Students in the two groups can be compared in terms of grammar, spelling, organization, content, and so on. As more attributes are compared, it becomes increasingly likely that the treatment and control groups will appear to differ on at least one attribute due to random sampling error alone. Suppose we consider the efficacy of a drug in terms of the reduction of any one of a number of disease symptoms. As more symptoms are considered, it becomes increasingly likely that the drug will appear to be an improvement over existing drugs in terms of at least one symptom.
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