Active Sequential Two-Sample Testing

Two-sample testing tests whether the distributions generating two samples are identical. We pose the two-sample testing problem in a new scenario where the sample measurements (or sample features) are inexpensive to access, but their group memberships (or labels) are costly. We devise the first \emph{active sequential two-sample testing framework} that not only sequentially but also \emph{actively queries} sample labels to address the problem. Our test statistic is a likelihood ratio where one likelihood is found by maximization over all class priors, and the other is given by a classification model. The classification model is adaptively updated and then used to guide an active query scheme called bimodal query to label sample features in the regions with high dependency between the feature variables and the label variables. The theoretical contributions in the paper include proof that our framework produces an \emph{anytime-valid} $p$-value; and, under reachable conditions and a mild assumption, the framework asymptotically generates a minimum normalized log-likelihood ratio statistic that a passive query scheme can only achieve when the feature variable and the label variable have the highest dependence. Lastly, we provide a \emph{query-switching (QS)} algorithm to decide when to switch from passive query to active query and adapt bimodal query to increase the testing power of our test. Extensive experiments justify our theoretical contributions and the effectiveness of QS.

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