Cover your bases: asymptotic distributions of the profile likelihood ratio when constraining effective field theories in high-energy physics
Florian Urs Bernlochner, Daniel C. Fry, Stephen Burns Menary, Eric Persson
SciPost Phys. Core 6, 013 (2023) · published 16 March 2023
We investigate the asymptotic distribution of the profile likelihood ratio (PLR) when constraining effective field theories (EFTs) and show that Wilks' theorem is often violated, meaning that we should not assume the PLR to follow a $\chi^2$-distribution. We derive the correct asymptotic distributions when either one or two real EFT couplings modulate observable cross sections with a purely linear or quadratic dependence. We then discover that when both the linear and quadratic terms contribute, the PLR distribution does not have a simple form. In this case we provide a partly-numerical solution for the one-parameter case. Using a novel approach, we find that the constants which define our asymptotic distributions may be obtained experimentally using a profile of the Asimov likelihood contour. Our results may be immediately used to obtain the correct coverage when deriving real-world EFT constraints using the PLR as a test-statistic.
Authors / Affiliations: mappings to Contributors and OrganizationsSee all Organizations.
- 1 Florian Urs Bernlochner,
- 1 Daniel C. Fry,
- 2 Stephen Burns Menary,
- 1 Eric Persson