Calculating Statistical Power When Your Analysis Requires the Delta Method

Table of Contents

In this post, we explore a situation typical of a website, where a user is allowed to view the page multiple times and may click on a button of interest on any visit. We would like to perform an A/B test on the non-user level metric, the click-through rate (CTR), defined via total clicks divided by total page views. In order to do the final analysis, we would need to estimate the variance for the variable via the delta method. However, what does that mean for a priori statistical power calculations?

In my last post, we discussed the linearized form of the quotient \(\frac{\bar{V}}{\bar{M}} =\frac{\bar{V}}{\mu_{M}} - \frac{\mu_{V}}{\mu_{M}^2}\bar{M}.\) We want to connect how to use this formula to derive a power calculation when using the delta method. This approach is useful for ratio metrics, and many session / page / non-user level metrics like the click-through rate.

Data Generation

To simulate the problem, we create users that sample a user level click-through rate (CTR) from a normal distribution with mean equal to a given population CTR and a set standard error. For users in the treatment group, we add a small effect to their user-level CTR. We also assign the number of sessions per user that the user will appear in the experiment if they are selected. From there, we sample a set number of users and calculate the clicks and page views per users and return that as a dataframe.

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
from scipy.special import ndtr
POP_CTR = .65
N_USERS = 50000 # total pool of users
STE = .003

treatment = np.random.choice([0,1], p=[.5,.5], size=N_USERS)
user_rates = np.random.normal(POP_CTR+treatment*EFFECT, STE, N_USERS)
user_session_rates = np.random.normal(SESSIONS_PER_USER, 2, N_USERS)

user_rates[user_rates<0] = 0
user_rates[user_rates>1] = 1

def generate_exp_data(n_users):
    clicks = []
    users = []
    treatments = []
    users_in_exp = np.random.choice(N_USERS, n_users) # number of users in the experiment
    while j < n_users:
        k = users_in_exp[j]
        treatment_data = treatment[k]
        user_session_rate = int(np.maximum(1,user_session_rates[k]))
        user_sessions = np.random.randint(np.maximum(user_session_rate-2,1),user_session_rate+2)
        click_data = np.random.binomial(1,user_rates[k],size=user_sessions).tolist()
    d = pd.DataFrame({'click': clicks, 'user' : users, 'treatment':treatments})

    # Linearize for delta method
    d['clicks_user']=d.groupby(['treatment']).click.transform('sum') / d.groupby(['treatment']).user.transform('nunique')
    d['sessions_user']=d.groupby(['treatment']).click.transform('count')/ d.groupby(['treatment']).user.transform('nunique')
    d['session'] = 1
    df=d.groupby(['user','treatment'], as_index=False).agg({
        'click' : 'sum',
        'session' : 'sum',
        'clicks_user' : 'max',
        'sessions_user' : 'max'

    # Construct the linearized term for the delta method, which is at the user level!
    df['linear_ctr'] = (1/df.sessions_user)***2)*df.session

    return df

def calculate_p_value(df):
    # delta method! linearize the term clicks / sessions    
    diff = df[df.treatment==1].click.sum() / df[df.treatment==1].session.sum() \
        - df[df.treatment==0].click.sum() / df[df.treatment==0].session.sum() 
    var_a = df[df.treatment == 0].linear_ctr.var() / df[df.treatment == 0].user.nunique()
    var_b = df[df.treatment == 1].linear_ctr.var() / df[df.treatment == 1].user.nunique()
    ste = np.sqrt(var_b + var_a)
    p = ndtr(diff / ste)
    return diff, ste, 1-p if p > .5 else p

Calculate \(n\) from the power formula

To avoid too much complication, we will use Lehr’s rule from the wiki where the sample size necessary is

\[\begin{equation} n \approx 16 \frac{\sigma^2}{\delta^2}. \end{equation}\]

It may not be obvious, but you can actually linearize your variable of interest, calculate the standard deviation, and plug it into the power formula! Let’s do a simulation to convince ourselves. We will calculate an estimated power using the standard formula for \(\alpha=.05\) and power at 80%, and then we will simulate to estimate the power.

d = generate_exp_data(1000) # using a smaller sample than we'd eventually need
sigma = d.linear_ctr.std() # calculate the STD of the linearized term

n = 16 * (sigma**2 / (EFFECT)**2 )
std_err = sigma / np.sqrt(1000)
n # formula per treatment

Simulate the true power for the given \(n\)

Recall, the power of the test is equivalent to the following probability:

\[\begin{equation}P(\text{null hypothesis rejected} | \text{alternative hypothesis is true}).\end{equation}\]

Above, we have constructed a simulation where the alternative hypothesis is true (\(\delta>0\)), and so if we calculate how often we would reject the null hypothesis when \(p < \text{significance level}/2=.05/2\) with the given sample size derived above will estimate the statistical power.

ps = []
significance_level = .05
for k in range(1000):
    ps.append(calculate_p_value(generate_exp_data(int(2*n)))) # Generate P distribution

# power for 2 tailed test, p(H_0 rejected | H_1 is true)
np.mean([p[2] < significance_level/2 for p in ps])