Statistical analysis of data repeatability measures

Zeyi Wang, Eric Bridgeford, Shangsi Wang, Joshua T. Vogelstein, Brian Caffo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The advent of modern data collection and processing techniques has seen the size, scale, and complexity of data grow exponentially. A seminal step in leveraging these rich datasets for downstream inference is understanding the characteristics of the data which are repeatable - the aspects of the data that are able to be identified under a duplicated analysis. Conflictingly, the utility of traditional repeatability measures, such as the intraclass correlation coefficient, under these settings is limited. In recent work, novel data repeatability measures have been introduced in the context where a set of subjects are measured twice or more, including: fingerprinting, rank sums, and generalizations of the intraclass correlation coefficient. However, the relationships between, and the best practices among these measures remains largely unknown. In this manuscript, we formalize a novel repeatability measure, discriminability. We show that it is deterministically linked with the correlation coefficient under univariate random effect models, and has desired property of optimal accuracy for inferential tasks using multivariate measurements. Additionally, we overview and systematically compare repeatability statistics using both theoretical results and simulations. We show that the rank sum statistic is deterministically linked to a consistent estimator of discriminability. The power of permutation tests derived from these measures are compared numerically under Gaussian and non-Gaussian settings, with and without simulated batch effects. Motivated by both theoretical and empirical results, we provide methodological recommendations for each benchmark setting to serve as a resource for future analyses. We believe these recommendations will play an important role towards improving repeatability in fields such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, genomics, pharmacology, and more.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 24 2020


  • Batch effect
  • Discriminability
  • Functional connectivity
  • Permutation test
  • Repeatability
  • Test-retest reliability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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