Effect Size Estimation for Duration Recommendation in Online Experiments: Leveraging Hierarchical Models and Objective Utility Approaches

20 Dec 2023  ·  Yu Liu, Runzhe Wan, James McQueen, Doug Hains, Jinxiang Gu, Rui Song ·

The selection of the assumed effect size (AES) critically determines the duration of an experiment, and hence its accuracy and efficiency. Traditionally, experimenters determine AES based on domain knowledge. However, this method becomes impractical for online experimentation services managing numerous experiments, and a more automated approach is hence of great demand. We initiate the study of data-driven AES selection in for online experimentation services by introducing two solutions. The first employs a three-layer Gaussian Mixture Model considering the heteroskedasticity across experiments, and it seeks to estimate the true expected effect size among positive experiments. The second method, grounded in utility theory, aims to determine the optimal effect size by striking a balance between the experiment's cost and the precision of decision-making. Through comparisons with baseline methods using both simulated and real data, we showcase the superior performance of the proposed approaches.

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