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A Comparison of Some Approximate Confidence Intervals for the Binomial Parameter

Author(s): B. K. Ghosh
Source: Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 74, No. 368 (Dec., 1979), pp.
894-900
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the American Statistical Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2286420
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A Comparison of Some Approximate Confidence
Intervals for the Binomial Parameter
B. K. GHOSH*

We consider two confidence intervals for the binomial parameter where


that are frequently recommended for large samples. We show that
one of these, which is in fact less popular in the literature, enjoys
certain advantages over the other one. The criteria used for com-
u n (X) = [2A + 02 - 0(02 + 4pq )][2(1 + 02)]-1 (1.3)
parison are the confidence coefficients, the lengths, and the Neyman uif(X) A[2 + 02 + 0(02 + 4A A)][2(1 + 02) }1
shortness of the intervals.
I'(X
v n =(X)
A _P0Q5AA)i
fpq) 2 "!
Vt Xn
= A5
(X)+ pOQ5A4)~
+ 2 P4, (141 .4)
KEY WORDS: Confidence intervals; Normal approximation;
Neyman shortness; Asymptotic relative efficiency; Arcsine trans- and
formation.
p = X/n, 1 p, 0 = z,t/ni (1.5)
1. INTRODUCTION M\any advanced texts usually recommend
Let X be the number of successes in n independent
the basis being of course that ni5 - p)[p(1 - p)]- is
Bernoulli trials and p the unknown probability of success asymptotically distributed as N(0, 1). Some of these
texts then point out that I, can be regarded as an ap-
on a single trial. Consider the problem of constructing a
proximation to Iu if one neglects 02 in comparison to terms
confidence interval I for p such that the coverage prob-
of order n-1. Almost all elementary texts describe only
ability P,(p C I) > a for all values of p E (0, 1),
Iv, often without giving a proper justification. One can,
where 0 < a < 1 is specified. We shall call a the con-
of course, develop Iv directly by noting that, as a con-
fidence level and a (p, n) = Pp (p E I) the confidence
sequence of Slutsky's theorem, n ( -p)(p4) 2 is also
coefficient of I.
asymptotically distributed as N(0, 1).
When n is small, it is customary to use the Clopper-
The purpose of this article is to give a comparative
Pearson interval or some variation of it, which guarantees
study of Iu and I, from several viewpoints. For definite-
that a (p, n) > a. If X = x is observed, then the Clopper-
ness, we shall call n small if n < 30, moderate if 30 < n
Pearson (1934) interval is defined by I = [p', p"],
< 100, and large if n > 100. Section 2 describes the
where p' and p" are, respectively, the solutions of
Pp(X < x - 1) = a + y and Pp(X < x) = -y for some
adequacy of the two intervals in fulfilling the basic re-
choice of y E (0, 1 - a). Several modifications of this
quirement that a (p, n) > a. We show that Iu is quite
interval have been proposed by various authors (Eudey
good in this regard even for small n, while I, can be quite
poor even for large n. Section 3 investigates the lengths
1949; Crow 1956; Clunies-Ross 1958) with a view toward
minimizing the expected length of I or its coverage
of the two intervals. In particular, we show that, in all
probabilities of false values of p. These intervals require
cases in which a (p, n) - a j is reasonably small under
extensive tables of p' and p", and this aspect may be Iu and Iv, the length of Iu is smaller than that of Iv with
a large probability. Section 4 investigates the Neyman
regarded by the practical statistician as an obstacle as
shortness (i.e., the probability of covering false values
the sample size increases (Anderson and Burstein 1967,
of p) of the two intervals. It is shown that, if
1968 provided some approximations for p' and p").
When n is large, two confidence intervals for p have Ia (p, n) - a j is small, Iu and Iv are not appre
different in this regard. Finally, Section 5 briefly des
gained universal acceptance in the literature, and they
the status of a third confidence interval and an allied
are known to guarantee that a (p, n) -+ a as n -+ o.
problem.
Define
The results of this article lead to the overall conclusion
+(z) = (27r)-i exp (_IZ2), 4(z) = f c(t)dt, (1.1) that Iu is preferable to Iv, whatever the sample size and
the true value of p may be. As Robbins (1977) noted in
and Za by 4 (za,) = 2(1 + a). Then these two approxi- a slightly different context,1 this feature should be of
mate intervals are some importance in practical statistics. We may add here

Iu = Eu'n (X), u"- (X)] , I, = [v'- (X), v" (X)] , (1.2) IHis question concerns the relative merits of two well-known
approximate tests for the equality of two binomial parameters, which
has since been partially answered by Eberhardt and Fligner (1977).
* B. K. Ghosh is Professor, Department of Mathematics, Lehigh
University, Bethlehem, PA. 18015. He is currently visiting the
Department of Statistics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State ? Journal of the American Statistical Association
University, Blacksburg, VA 24061. The author wishes to thank the December 1979, Volume 74, Number 368
editor and a referee for useful comments. Theory and Methods Section

894

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Ghosh: Confidence Intervals 895

that I, also suffers from an interpretational difficulty - -C2 in Lemma 1 of the Appendix to get (2.2) as
when one finds v'.(X) < 0 or v". (X) > 1 in practice
av(p, n) = a + (npq)`Oq(z.)
(e.g., if n = 100 and a = .99, then (1.4) shows that
v'n(X) < 0 for 1 < X < 6 and v"n(X) > 1 for 94 - (144npq)-1z,4(za)E24(2 - pq) + 8(1 + 1lpq)za2
< X < 99). + 16(1 - 4pq)za4] + O(n-1)
One final remark needs to be made here. The litera-
The last expression and (2.5) lead to (2.6).
ture on the study of the asymptotic normality of
It is clear from (2.5) that the speed of convergence of
n( - p) [p(1 - p)]-2 is extensive (Johnson and Kotz a, (p, n) to the level a may be slow, especially when p is
1969, p. 61). The main focus of these studies is on refine-
very small or large. A consoling factor is that, for any p
ments of bounds for I a (p, n) - a under I. rather than and a, n can be chosen sufficiently large such that
the kind of details presented in Section 2.
a, (p, n) actually exceeds a up to order n-v. Similar con-
clusions hold for a, (p, n), except that (2.6) shows that I,
2. THE CONFIDENCE COEFFICIENTS
should be more reliable than I, in satisfying the require-
We consider first the large-sample behavior of the con- ment a (p, n) > a for all p.
fidence coefficients of Iu and I,. Using (1.3) and (1.4), we Consider now situations in which the sample size is
note that small or moderate. Table 1 gives some values of the con-
fidence coefficients for several combinations of a, p, and
au(p, n) = P,(p E Iu)
n. The values were computed by using (2.1), (2.2), and
= Pp(U'n(p) < X < U"n(P)) , (2.1) tables of binomial probabilities provided by Aiken (1955).
a,v(p, n) = Pp(p E Iv) It can be easily verified from- (2.1) and (2.2) that, for all

= Pp(V'n(p) < X < V"n(p)) , (2.2) O < p < 1 and n > 1, au(p, n) = a,,(1 - p, n) and
where a,v(p, n) = a,(1 -p, n).
The pattern in Table 1 shows that the conclusions of
Un (p) = np - za(npq) 2 Theorem 1 are generally corroborated by small and
U"n(p) = np + za (npq) , (2.3)
1. Confidence Coefficients of I, and I,
V'n(p) = [2np + Za2 - Za(Za2 + 4npq) ]
n = 15 n =20
* [2(1 + za2/n) ]-I
a=.95 a=.99 a=.95 a=.99
V n (p) = [2np + Za + Za(za2 + 4npq) 1]
* [2(1 +Za2/n) ]-I , (2.4) p a, a, a, a, a, at, au a,

and q = 1 - p. The inequalities U',(p) < X < U",,(p) .01, .99 .860 .140 .990 .140 .983 .182 .983 .182
in (2.1) follow by inverting the inequalities u'.(X) < p .05, .95 .964 .536 .964 .537 .925 .639 .984 .641
.10, .90 .944 .792 .987 .794 .957 .876 .989 .878
< u".(X) under (1.3). Then the following theorem gives
.20, .80 .982 .815 .982 .961 .956 .921 .990 .928
some idea about the closeness of the confidence coefficient .30, .70 .915 .949 .996 .961 .975 .947 .994 .959
of Iu or I, to the level a for sufficiently large n. .40, .60 .939 .939 .985 .964 .963 .928 .990 .978
.50 .965 .882 .993 .965 .959 .959 .988 .959
Theorem 1: For any p E (0, 1) and a E (0, 1), the
n=30 n=50
confidence coefficients of Iu and I, satisfy
a=.95 a=.99 a=.95 a=.99
au(p, n) = a + (npq)`0(z.a)
- (144npq)<1z ap (Za) [24 (2 - pq) p au a, a(u a, au a,7 au a,
- 4 (7 - 22pq)za2 .01, .99 .964 .260 .964 .260 .911 .395 .986 .395
+ 4(1 - 4pq)za4] + O(ni), (2.5) .05, .95 .939 .782 .984 .785 .962 .920 .988 .923
.10, .90 .974 .809 .992 .957 .970 .879 .991 .965
au(p, n) - av i(p, n) = (12npq)-1z a3(za) .20, .80 .964 .946 .989 .953 .951 .938 .992 .979
.30, .70 .930 .953 .992 .968 .957 .935 .992 .979
*[3 + (q- p)2Za2] + 0(n-A) , (2.6) .40, .60 .962 .935 .986 .975 .941 .941 .987 .979
.50 .957 .957 .995 .984 .935 .935 .993 .985
and both expansions hold uniformly for Za in any bounded
interval. n =100 n =200

Proof: The expansion (2.5) follows by noting the a=.95 a=.99 a=.95 a=.99
asymptotic forms in (2.3) and putting a1 = -Za = -a2,
bi = 0 = b2, and c1 = 0 = C2 in Lemma 1 of the Appendix. p au a av a, a,) a, av au at,
To establish (2.6), write (2.4) as
.01, .99 .921 .633 .982 .634 .948 .862 .984 .866
.05, .95 .966 .877 .989 .962 .967 .926 .986 .973
VI (p) = np - za(npq) 2 + 2 (q - p)Za .10, .90 .936 .932 .988 .975 .956 .927 .987 .982
-8 (1 - 8pq)za3(npq)-l2 + O(n8-) .20, .80 .941 .933 .992 .986 .958 .941 .990 .987
.30, .70 .937 .950 .988 .987 .947 .944 .989 .989
.40, .60 .948 .948 .990 .986 .949 .949 .989 .988
and V"tn(p) in a similar asymptotic form. Put ai =-Z
.50 .943 .943 .988 .988 .944 .944 .991 .987
- -a2, b1 = 21(q - p)za2 = b2, and cl = -8 (1 -8pq)za3

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896 Journal of the American Statistical Association, December 1979

2. Confidence Coefficients and the Sets J(p) or large, one might argue that a confidence interval for p
= {XJpeI} of Iu and I, When n = 30 based on the Poisson approximation to the binomial dis-
tribution should be a better choice than I.. While this
p a Ju(P) a,, J,v(p) a, J*(P) a* Pp(X = 0)
may well be true, the resulting interval would require
.01 .95 0-1 .964 (1-3) .260 0-1 .964 .7397 extensive tables of the Poisson probabilities, a feature that
.99 0-1 .964 (1-5) .260 0-2 .997 makes it less desirable than some Clopper-Pearson type of
.05 .95 0-3 .939 (1-5) .782 0-3 .939 .2146
interval. Moreover, the confidence coefficient of the
.99 0-4 .984 (1-7) .785 0-4 .984
.10 .95 0-6 .974 (2-7) .809 1-6 .932 .0424 interval may unduly exceed a (Anderson and Samuels
.99 0-7 .992 (1-9) .957 0-7 .992 1967), perhaps at the cost of increasing its length or
.20 .95 2-10 .964 (3-11) .946 2-10 .964 .0012
.99 1-11 .989 (3-12) .953 1-11 .989
Neyman shortness. The simplicity and relative accuracy
.30 .95 5-13 .930 5-14 .953 5-14 .953 .0000 of I. should obviate such an alternative choice for large
.99 3-15 .992 (5-16) .968 3-15 .992
samples. It may be emphasized that both I, and I, will
.40 .95 7-17 .962 8-17 .935 7-17 .962 .0000
.99 6-18 .986 7-18 .975 6-18 .986 be unsatisfactory when p is extremely small (.001, say)
.50 .95 10-20 .957 10-20 .975 10-20 .957 .0000 or large.
.99 8-22 .995 9-21 .984 8-22 .995

NOTE: JX(p) is the set containing the least number of values of X whose total probability 3. THE LENGTHS
a* is closest to a. The sets in parentheses do not contain values of X with largest
probabilities.
A desirable feature of any confidence interval is that
its length be small, although this need not be the sole
moderate sample sizes. Thus, Iu satisfies the requirement criterion for choosing an interval. It follows from (1.3)
au (p, n) > a reasonably well for all .01 < p < .99, even and (1.4) that the lengths of I. and I, are
when n is as small as 20 (e.g., .911 < au < .983 when
a = .95, and .964 < au < .995 when a = .99). On the Lu = u " (X) - U'n(X) = 0(1 + 02)-1 (02 + 4ip?) 2 (3.1)
other hand, I, is unsatisfactory in this regard for most
L = v"n(X) - v'n(X) = 20( p2 (3.2)
values of p < .2 or >.8, even when n is as large as 200
(e.g., a, =.927 when a = .95 and p = .1, and a, = .866 It is clear that, for arbitrary values of n and a, Lu may
when a .99 and p = .01). This means, of course, that turn out to be smaller or larger than Lv, depending on the
the effect of the terms in O(n-1) is more pronounced on outcome X.
a,v(p, n) than on au(p, n). As n -* oo, 0 -> 0 for any fixed a, and it is well known
It is instructive to reinterpret the results of Table 1 that A -> p almost surely. Because Lu and L, are bounded
from the viewpoint of likelihood principle. Observing that continuous functions of A, it follows that Lu -> 0 and
a confidence interval I for p is a function of X L, -O0 almost surely for all 0 < p < 1, and in particular
E {0, 1, .. ., n}, define the set E,(Lu) -O 0 and Ep(Lv) -*0.
The following theorem throws some light on the rela-
J(p) = tx!p E I} (2.7) tive status of Lu and L, for arbitrary sample sizes.
Any reasonable I should be such that, for any given value
Theorem 2: For any p C (0, 1), a C (0, 1), and n > 1
of p, J(p) ought to consist of a small number of values of
the lengths of Iu and I, satisfy
X whose total probability is as close as possible to a.
Table 2 shows the sets (intervals) Ju (p) and J (p) cor- Pp(Lu < Lv) Pp(- [(1 + 2)/(2+ 02)] < 1
responding to Iu and I, when n = 30. It can be seen that < 2 + 1[(1 + 02)/(2 + 02)]2) (3.3)
I, is quite deficient in the sense just explained, and this
is true for other choices of n as well. In fact, J, (p) often > Pp (. 1464 < - < .8536) . (3.4)
excludes values of X with the largest probabilities. Table
Proof: It follows from (3.1) and (3.2) that Lu < Lv if
2 displays values of P,(X = 0) in order to point out that,
and only if p(1 -) > {(2 + 02)-1. The last inequality
in the extreme case when X = 0, h = {0 0 concludes that
can be rewritten as the inequalities in parentheses on the
p = 0 even though P, (X = 0) may be quite high for
right side of (3.3). As a increases from 0 to 1,
p > 0. None of these deficiencies seems to be present in
(1 + 02)/(2 + 02) increases from 2 to 1 and, therefore,
Iu. In fact, Table 2 shows that Ju(p) is almost identical
to J*(p), which consists of the least number of values of
X whose total probability a* is as close as possible to a. 3. Lower Bound of Pp(LU < L) From (3.4)
The arguments here give an additional justification for
n
preferring Iu to I,. p
If one has a priori evidence that the true value of p is 20 30 50 100 200

approximately 1, then Tables 1 and 2 indicate that both


.20, .80 .7939 .7448 .8096 .9196 .9717
Iu and I, are satisfactory for all n > 20. As is shown in the .25, .75 .9087 .9021 .9547 .9946 .9998
next section, however, in such cases I,u will generally have .30, .70 .9645 .9699 .9927 .9998 1.0000
.40, .60 .9964 .9985 .9999 1.0000 1.0000
a smaller length than Iv,.
.50 .9996 .9999 1.0000 1.0000 1.0000
If one has a priori evidence that p is small (.01, say)

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Ghosh: Confidence Intervals 897

the right side of (3.3) is greater than where the U. and V. are defined in (2.3) and (2.4). Note
that f# and f,3 are functions of p, p', a, and n.
PP ( - 2 < A < 2 + 2-I) = Pp(.1464 < A < .8536) Consider first the large-sample behavior of (4.1) and
for all a E (0, 1). (4.2). As n -? oo, it follows from (2.3) and (2.4) and the
asymptotic normality of (X - np) (npq)-- that f 0 0
Table 3 gives some values of the lower bound (3.4) for
and f3 --* 0 for all p' $ p and a. This implies that both
PP(LU < Lv), which were computed by using tables
I. anid I, are consistent and asymptotically unbiased in-
of binomial probabilities provided by Aiken (1955).
tervals. In order to determine the asymptotic relative
Table 3 is restricted to .2 < p < .8 merely because out-
efficiency (ARE) of Iu against Iv, it is necessary to look
side this range I a, (p, n) - a will be unacceptably large,
at the rates with which u,. and #,, tend to zero. Let n. and
as shown in the earlier section. Table 3 clearly indicates
nm denote the sample sizes of I. and I,.
a favorable status of I. compared with I,.
Suppose p' (n.) is a sequence of false values of
Theorem 2 and the asymptotic normality of
the parameter. Since 0 < [p'(n)q'(nu)]' < 2 and
- p) (pq)A- imply that, as n -+ o, Pp (Lu < L) 1
(X - np) (npq)-i is asymptotically distributed as N(0, 1),
if .1464 < p < .8536. In fact, Table 3 shows the speed of
this convergence as n varies between 20 and 200. Simi-
it follows from (2.3) and (4.1) that lim #u exists and lies
in (0, a) if and only if p'(nu) = p + aunu- + o(nu`) for
larly, Pp(Lv < L.) -* 1 if p < .1464 or >.8536, which
some constant au - 0. The limiting Neyman shortness
indicates an advantage of I, over I. for quite small or
of I. is, in fact,
large values of p. But in practice, this advantage will
materialize only for extremely large sample sizes because lim fl ) = - (au[pq]- + z) - u4(aE[pq] - z) * (4.3)
only then a, (p, n) would be comparably close to a as nu ---o

a,u(p, n) is to a. In exactly the same way, we find from (2.4) and (4.2)
The conclusions of Theorem 2 are also borne out by that lim f3 exists and lies in (0, a) if and only if p'(nu)
the moments of L, and L,. For instance, it can be shown
= p + a,n,-' + o(n,`) for some constant a, -4 0, and
without any difficulty that the limiting Neyman shortness of I, is given by (4.3),
EP(Lu - L,) = 40(1 - 8pq)(pq)-2 + 0(nr2) where au is replaced by a,. But p'(nu) = p'(n,) implies
n,/nu = (a,/au)2 asymptotically, and lim fu = lim f3, im-
which implies that, to order n-1, E,(Lu) < E,(Lv)
plies if
au = 4 a,. Hence, the limiting ratio of the sample
.1464 < p < .8536. sizes required by I, and Iu, both of which have con-
fidence coefficient a, to achieve the same Neyman short-
4. THE NEYMAN SHORTNESS ness (between 0 and a) for the same false value (arbi-
trarily close to p) is unity. This is the so-called Pitman-
Any reasonable confidence interval should cover false
Noether ARE of Iu against I, (Noether 1955).
values of the parameter with a small probability. This
Next, suppose that the false value p' is a fixed number.
aspect is known as the Neyman shortness of the interval.
It follows from (2.3) and (4.1), and taking a, = -zc,
Let p' - p, 0 < p' < 1, denote a false value of the
= -a2 and bi(nu) = 0 = b2(nu) in Lemma 2 of the
binomial parameter. Then the Neyman shortnesses of
Appendix, that
Iu and I, are, respectively,
lim nu-' log Au = p' log (p/p') + q' log (q/q') . (4.4)
Pp(p' C IU) = Pp(U'n(p') <KX < U"n(p')) nu >e

= Au , say , (4.1)
It is easily verified that (4.4) is negative for all p' =4 p.
Pp(p C I,) = Pp(V'n(p') < X < V n(p')) Similarly, using (2.4) and (4.2), and taking al= -Z=
= f, , say , (4.2) = -a2, bi(n,) = 2(q'-p')zo2 + 0(nv-) and b2(n,)

4. Exact Values of fl, and /38 When a = .95 and n = 50


False p' True p

.2 .3 .4 .5a

18. ~
u 13 pu
pv .8 1811.
v . 8,16Pv
u~~~~~~~f3 l Pu Pu

.1 .4437 .5823 .0402 .0788 .0008 .0022 .0000 .0000


.2 .9507b .9375b .5690 .6832 .0955 .1561 .0033 .0077
.3 .6926 .5562 .9567b .9347b .6699 .6694 .1611 .1611
.4 .1106 .1106 .6718 .6718 .9406b .9406b .6636 .6636
.5 .0025 .0025 .1406 .1406 .6639 .6639 .9351 b .9351b
.6 .0000 .0000 .0056 .0056 .1562 .1562 .6636 .6636
.7 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0076 .0076 .1611 .1611
.8 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0001 .0033 .0077

a For p > 1/2, Pp(p'EIa) = P_-(1 - P'EIa) and P,(P'EIr) = P


I Confidence coefficients of I, and /v.

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898 Journal of the American Statistical Association, December 1979

= - p')za2. + O(n,- ) in Lemma 2, we find that terval for p, which is seldom cited in the literature. Using
lim n,-' log fl is also given by the right side of (4.4). the well-known fact that 2n{[arcsin(pj) - arcsin(pl)]
Consequently, the limiting ratio of the sample sizes -* N(O, 1) as n - oo, one gets this confidence interval as
required by I, and I., both of which have confidence IW = [w',n(X), W",n (X)], where
coefficient a, to achieve an arbitrarily small Neyman
WIn (X) = sin2 [arcsin (p-)-2O]
shortness (i.e., #u, (, < e) at any specified p' is unity.
Wfn (X) = sin2 [arcsin(p--) + 10] , (5.3)
This is the so-called Hodges-Lehmann (1956) ARE of I.
against I,. It should be noted that the ARE here need not and 0 is defined in (1.5). Note that the confidence limits
imply that lim (f3/t3) is one if both Iu and I, are based in (5.3) lie, like those of I, between 0 and 1. We sum-
on the same n. Note also that Lemma 2 is actually marize some comparative features of I, in relation to
stronger than what is needed (e.g., Pp(X = k)/Pp(X > k) I. and I,.
> T1 and Stirling's formula) to establish (4.4). Lemma 2 It can be shown by the technique of Theorem 1 that
shows quite precisely the rate with which Au and (3 tend
to zero. aw(p, n) - a,,(p, n) = (48npq)->za3,(z.)
Thus, we have proved the following result concerning * [32pq + 5 (q - p)2Za2] + O (n-) . (5.4)
the Neyman shortness of Iu and I, in large samples.
Relation (5.4) implies that, for large n, Iw should fulfill
Theorem 3: The Pitman-Noether ARE of I. against I, the requirement aw(p, n) > a more satisfactorily than I,
is unity for all 0 < p < 1 and 0 < a < 1, and the fulfills a, (p, n) > a. Numerical calculations similar to
Hodges-Lehmann ARE of Iu against I, is unity for all those in Table 1 confirm this conclusion for small and
0 <p $ p' <1 and 0 <a < 1. moderate sample sizes. Next, since sin 0 < 0 for all 0 > 0,
Numerical calculations of f3 and 3, for various com- it follows from (1.4) and (5.3) that Lw < L, for all
binations of p, p', and a tend to confirm the assertions of 0 < X < n andn > 1 (L, = 0 = L,. when X = 0 or n).
Theorem 3 in small or moderate sample sizes. Table 4 Moreover, it can be shown by the technique of Theorem 3
shows some typical values of fu and #, when n that
= 50the
andPitman-Noether or Hodges-Lehmann ARE of
p is restricted to a range that assures that both Iw against I, is unity. Calculations similar to those in
Table 4 show
i au (p, n) - a I and I a, (p, n) - a I are reasonably that, for small and moderate sample sizes,
small.
Bearing in mind that a comparison of Neyman shortness fw lies between f. and f,, but closer to f.. These observa-
is meaningful only when the two intervals have the same tions suggest that Iw should generally be a better choice
confidence coefficient, it seems that for moderate sample than I,.
sizes ,,u may be slightly smaller than AU, when the false The distinction between Iw and Iu is not so clear-cut.
values lie near zero or one. Relations (2.5), (2.6), and (5.4) show that, to order n ,
au (p, n) - aw (p, n) may be positive or negative. Numeri-
5. SOME COMMENTS cal calculations for small or moderate values of n reveal
the same feature, and Table 5 reproduces some of these
It is informative to note that I. can be viewed as a
calculations. Since a major purpose of the arcsine trans-
modification of I, along Bayes-Laplacian lines. Observe
formation is to normalize the binomial variable (Johnson
that I, is a confidence interval centered at the minimum
variance unbiased estimate A of p and based on the usual
estimate 54 of the variance pq. The interval Iu is first 5. Comparison of a,, - a and a,, - a
shifting A to
p a=.95

P = (np + lZa2)/(n + za 2)
n= 15 20 30 50 100 200
= p + 02 (1 + 02)1( - p) , (5. 1)
.01 au - a -.090 .033 .014 -.039 -.029 -.002
which essentially adds IZ a2 (instead of the usual 1) to a, - a .040 .033 .047 .036 .032 -.100
both successes and failures to estimate p. Since 2.20
- I au -a .032 .006 .014 .001 -.009 .008
< A- , the net effect of this shift is to shrink A aw- a -.003 -.051 -.020 -.012 .005 -.002
toward 2. When A is close to 0 or 1, one may indeed prefer
.50 au - a .015 .009 .007 -.015 -.007 -.006
a different estimate for p, and Iu provides an objective aw - a .015 .009 .007 -.015 -.007 -.006
guideline for this purpose. Next, with p chosen as the
p a=.99
center of the confidence interval, Iu is also shrinking the
variance estimate pq to n= 15 20 30 50 100 200

pq - 402(1 + 02)-I = (PA + 102)(1 + 02)-2 (5.2) .01 au -a .000 -.007 -.026 -.004 -.008 -.006
aw - a .010 .009 .010 .008 .009 -.125
The asymptotic normality of (p - p)nl[pq - 402/
.20 au - a -.008 .000 -.001 .002 .002 .000
(1 + 02)]-2 then leads to Iu.
a,-a -.029 -.004 -.004 .002 .001 -.001
The expressions in (5.1) and (5.2) should conceptually
.50 au, - a .003 -.002 .005 .003 .002 .001
simplify the formulas in (1.3).
am -ax .003 -.002 -.006 -.005 -.002 .001
It is of some interest to study a third asymptotic in-

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Ghosh: Confidence Intervals 899

and Kotz 1969), one may be tempted to surmise that, as B = 72[c20(a2) - cl4(a,)] - [9(2b2 + 1)2
n increases, Ia (p, n) - a will converge to zero more - 6(q - p)(a22 - 3)(2b2 + 1) + 3(1 - 2pq)
rapidly than does Ia. (p, n) - al. Table 5, however, - (7 - 22pq) a22 + (1 - 4pq) a24]a2O(a2)
shows that this is clearly not the case.
+ [9(2b, - 1)2 - 6(q - p)(a12 -3)(2b, - 1)
One can show by the method of Theorem 2 that, for
sufficiently large n, PP(LU < Li,,) is close to 1 if .1838 + 3(1 - 2pq) - (7 - 22pq)a,2
< p < .8162 and Pp(Lw < L.) is close to 1 if p < .1838 + (1 -4pq) al4 ]aj4 (a,)
or >.8162. Finally, the Pitman-Noether or Hodges-
and 4(z) and 4D(z) are defined in (1.1).
Lehmann ARE of I, against I. is unity. Proof: Taking 0 = 2 and , = 3 in Theorem 6 of
A related problem in the theory of confidence intervals
Kalinin (1967), one gets, after some algebra,
for p is to find an interval I whose confidence coefficient
is at least a and length is at most 2d for all values of X, Pp (k1 < X < k2) = 4(2) (Y- )
where 0 < d < 2 is specified. An exact solution to this + Ql(npq)- - Q2(npq)-l + O(n-1)
problem does not exist for arbitrary d. An asymptotic
where
(as d -*0) solution is provided by I, or I, or I, by
choosing the sample size suitably, as clarified in the y= (kI- -7np) (npq)-A2
following paragraph. 2= (k2 + 2 -np) (npq)-2
It is easily shown from (3.1) that L. < Zcr2(n + Zcr2)-2
Qi = (q - p)[(l -Y22)(Y2) -(1 - y,2)4(yl)]
for X = 0, 1, .. ., n. Hence, if we choose n = nu, where
nfu is the smallest integer greater than or equal to Q2= (1/24)(1 -2pq)[y24(y2) -Y1(y1)]
z2(ld-2 - 1), then L, < 2d for all X. Moreover, if d is - (1/72)(7 - 22pq)[y2340(Y2) - yl3O(Yl)]
small, then n. is large and, as shown in Section 2, + (1/72)(1 - 4pq)[y254(y2) - y154(y1)]
la,(p, n.) - a is small. Similar arguments based on
Kalinin proved that this expansion holds uniformly for
(3.2) and (5.3) show that the appropriate sample sizes
Yl < y2 in any bounded interval. Putting ki = np
for I, and I, are n, and np,, which are the smallest integers
+ ai(npq)l + bi + ci(npq)-A for i = 1, 2 and expanding
> z 2/ (4d2) and [zar/arcsin (2d) ]2, respectively. One can
4> (yi) and 4 (yi) around ai, one obtains the expansion in the
now verify that n. < nw < n, for all a and d, which
lemma.
implies that the interval I. should be the best choice
among the three. The actual difference between the three Lemma 2: Let X be a binomial (n, p) variable, a, < a2
sample sizes is hardly noticeable for conventional values be constants, and b1(n) and b2(n) be bounded (bi(n)
of a and d (e.g., nu = 1,837, nw = 1,841, and n, = 1,844 < b2(n) if a, = a2). Then, for large n and for any
when a = .99 and d = .03). Nevertheless, one would still pI z p, 0 < p' < 1,
prefer I, or I, to I, on the basis of their confidence
coefficients and lengths.
Pp(np' + ai[np'q']' + bi(n) < X < np'
A somewhat similar problem in the theory of point + a2[np'q'] 1 + b2(n)) = K[RR{1 + o(1)}
estimation for p should not be confused with the problem - (pq'/p'q)R2{ 1 + o (1) ]
described earlier. If one wants a point estimate r(X) of where
p such that P,( r(X) - p < d) > a, then r(X) = p
K = (27rnp'q')- 2 (p'q)(p' - p)P[p/p')IP(q/q)Q']nl
based on sample size n, is the well-known solution (Feller
1957, p. 176). As a confidence interval for p with maxi- Ri = (pq'/p'q)ai(nP'Q)*?bi(n) exp (-lai2) i = 1, 2
mum length 2d, however, Io = [p-d, p + d] is worse
Proof: Consider first the case when 0 < p < p' < 1.
than I. or I, or I, in the sense that Io contains the other
three intervals for sufficiently small d. Bahadur (1960) has shown that, for np < k < n,

T, + T2[(k + 1)((k + 2) + (n - k))p]-I


APPENDIX
< Pp(X = k)/Pp(X > k) < T1
Lemma 1: Let X be a binomial (n, p) variable, and
+ T2[(k + 2) (k - np + q) + (n - k)p]-l
al < a2, b , b2, Cl, C2 be constants that may depend on
p(bO < b2 if a, = a2, and cl < C2 if al = a2 and b1 = b2). where
Then the asymptotic expansion
T, = (k - np + q)/[(k + 1)q]
Pp(np + alEnpq]4 + bi + clEnpq]-j < X < np T2 = (n + 1)(n - k)p2/[(k + 1)q]
+ a2[npq]2 + b2 + c2[npq]-I) = 4(a2) - 4(al) Putting k = np' + ai(np'q')' + bi(n) and k = np'
+ (A/6)(npq)-- + (B/72)(npq)-1 + O(n-1) + a2(np'q')' + 1 + b2(n) successively for sufficiently
large n, and applying Stirling's formula to the three
holds for large n and uniformly for al < a2 in any bounded
interval, where factorials in Pp(X = k), one obtains the expansion of the
lemma. Next, if 0 < p' < p < 1, one arrives at the same
A = [3 (2b2 + 1) - (q -p) (a22 -1) ]P(a2) result by applying the technique to the binomial (n, q)
- [3(2b - 1) -(q -p)(ai2 - )]p(ai), variable Y = n -X.

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900 Journal of the American Statistical Association, December 1979

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