Testing similar means

Reut Levi*, Dana Ron, Ronitt Rubinfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the problem of testing a basic property of collections of distributions: having similar means. Namely, the algorithm should accept collections of distributions in which all distributions have means that do not differ by more than some given parameter and should reject collections that are relatively far from having this property. By "far" we mean that it is necessary to modify the distributions in a relatively significant manner (according to some predetermined distance measure) so as to obtain the property. We study this problem in two models. In the first model (the query model) the algorithm may ask for samples from any distribution of its choice, and in the second model (the sampling model) the distributions from which it gets samples are selected randomly. We provide upper and lower bounds in both models. In particular, in the query model, the complexity of the problem is polynomial in 1/ε (where ε is the given distance parameter), while in the sampling model, the complexity grows roughly as m1-poly(ε), where m is the number of distributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1699-1724
Number of pages26
JournalSIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Property testing of distributions
  • Sublinear-time algorithms


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