Searching for new phenomena with profile likelihood ratio tests

Sara Algeri, Jelle Aalbers, Knut Dundas Morå, Jan Conrad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Likelihood ratio tests are standard statistical tools used in particle physics to perform tests of hypotheses. The null distribution of the likelihood ratio test statistic is often assumed to be χ2, following Wilks’ theorem. However, in many circumstances relevant to modern experiments this theorem is not applicable. In this Expert Recommendation, we overview practical ways to identify these situations and provide guidelines on how to construct valid inference. We use examples from particle physics, but the statistical constructs discussed here can be used in any scientific discipline that relies on data analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.C., J.A. and K.D.M. acknowledge support from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the Swedish Research Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Limited.


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