Quantifying and mitigating bias in inference on gravitational wave source populations

Jonathan R. Gair, Christopher J Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

When using incorrect or inaccurate signal models to perform parameter estimation on a gravitational wave signal, biased parameter estimates will in general be obtained. For a single event this bias may be consistent with the posterior, but when considering a population of events this bias becomes evident as a sag below the expected diagonal line of the P-P plot showing the fraction of signals found within a certain significance level versus that significance level. It would be hoped that recently proposed techniques for accounting for model uncertainties in parameter estimation would, to some extent, alleviate this problem. Here we demonstrate that this is indeed the case. We derive an analytic approximation to the P-P plot obtained when using an incorrect signal model to perform parameter estimation. This approximation is valid in the limit of high signal-to-noise ratio and nearly correct waveform models. We show how the P-P plot changes if a Gaussian process likelihood that allows for model errors is used to analyse the data. We demonstrate analytically and using numerical simulations that the bias is always reduced in this way. These results provide a way to quantify bias in inference on populations and demonstrate the importance of utilising methods to mitigate this bias.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124062
JournalPhysical Review D, particles, fields, gravitation, and cosmology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • gr-qc


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