Orthogonal statistics and some sampling properties of moment estimators for the negative binomial distribution

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

This dissertation deals primarily with the development of the technique of orthogonal statistics and the use of this technique to investigate sampling properties of moment estimators of parameters of the negative binomial distribution.

The general technique of orthogonal statistics which is based on the existence of an infinite set {qr(x)} of orthogonal polynomials associated with a particular distribution, enables one to obtain expansions of sampling moments of statistics which are functions of say, the first k sample moments m₁, m₂,…, mk. The thesis describes the technique in general, and gives tables which facilitate the expansion through terms in n⁻⁵ of sampling moments of statistics which are functions of any four sample moments.

The need for the development of this technique resulted from an interest in the problem of investigating sampling properties of certain moment estimators for the case of the negative binomial distribution. Thus further work was done on the technique for this particular case. Tables are given in the thesis which simplify the procedure for moment statistics which result from a sample taken from this particular distribution.

Sampling properties of moment estimators for the negative binomial distribution were investigated. The distribution forms considered in depth were due to Anscombe [Biometrika, 37 (1950}, pp. 358-362] with parameters λ and α, Evans [Biometrika, 40 (1953), pp. 186-211] with parameters m and a, and Fisher [Annals of Eugenics, 11 (1941), pp. 182-187] with parameters p and k. The purpose of this study was to obtain an insight into the behavior of expansions through high powers of 1/n (e.g., terms in n⁻⁴) of the bias, variance, and higher moments for these estimators. It was felt that the usual asymptotic properties described by the first term approximations might be misleading for practical cases (i.e., ordinary sample sizes).

The results verified what was suspected. For the moment estimators of Ansaombe's form, when α > λ the sample sizes needed to make high order terms negligible for the expansion of the bias and variance were extremely large. (For one particular case, in order to use the usual asymptotic variance safely one would need an n of 2 million.) This then reveals the hazardous practice of using the first term approximation and resulting in a very serious under-assessment of the true variance of the estimate of α. Since for Fisher's form k̂ = α̂, the same applies. For Evans' form, the situation was in marked contrast. Higher order terms were "damped off" with much smaller sample sizes, and in most cases one is justified in using first term approximations. Studies for Evans' estimators were confined to the range λ > 1 and α > 1.

The results for the estimators of Anscombe's form were compared with similar results for the maximum likelihood estimator of α, in order to ascertain the effect on efficiency of the chaotic nature of the n⁻³ term in the expansion of the covariance determinant of α̂. The maximum likelihood results were taken from Bowman [Thesis submitted for Ph.D. degree, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Moments to Higher Orders for Maximum Likelihood Estimators with an Application to the Negative Binomial Distribution]. This study revealed that there is a striking similarity in the n⁻³ term in the covariance determinant for the two estimators. This made the "true" efficiency almost identical to the asymptotic efficiency in cases when sufficiently large sample sizes are used to "sink" terms beyond n⁻³. This statement cannot be generalized, however, to include any sample size, since for α > λ only relatively large sample sizes "damp off' further terms in the covariance determinants for both estimators. Hence one cannot be sure of the behavior of these determinants beyond n⁻³ unless these large sample sizes are used.

Tables and charts are given which display the nature of the expansions given in the text. In particular, charts are given of minimum sample size needed in order that the expansions given can safely be used as approximations.