Federated statistical analysis: non-parametric testing and quantile estimation

Ori Becher, Mira Marcus-Kalish, David M. Steinberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The age of big data has fueled expectations for accelerating learning. The availability of large data sets enables researchers to achieve more powerful statistical analyses and enhances the reliability of conclusions, which can be based on a broad collection of subjects. Often such data sets can be assembled only with access to diverse sources; for example, medical research that combines data from multiple centers in a federated analysis. However these hopes must be balanced against data privacy concerns, which hinder sharing raw data among centers. Consequently, federated analyses typically resort to sharing data summaries from each center. The limitation to summaries carries the risk that it will impair the efficiency of statistical analysis procedures. In this work, we take a close look at the effects of federated analysis on two very basic problems, non-parametric comparison of two groups and quantile estimation to describe the corresponding distributions. We also propose a specific privacy-preserving data release policy for federated analysis with the K-anonymity criterion, which has been adopted by the Medical Informatics Platform of the European Human Brain Project. Our results show that, for our tasks, there is only a modest loss of statistical efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1267034
JournalFrontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
StatePublished - 2023


FundersFunder number
European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation785907, 945539


    • Mann-Whitney test
    • federated analysis
    • information loss
    • medical informatics
    • privacy preservation


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