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Empirical Cumulative Distribution Function

#include <boost/math/distributions/empirical_cumulative_distribution_function.hpp>

namespace boost{ namespace math{

template <class RandomAccessContainer>
class empirical_cumulative_distribution_function
    using Real = typename RandomAccessContainer::value_type;
    empirical_cumulative_distribution_function(RandomAccessContainer && v, bool sorted = false);

    auto operator()(Real t) const;

    RandomAccessContainer&& return_data();

Empirical Cumulative Distribution Function

The empirical cumulative distribution function is a step function constructed from observed data which converges to the true cumulative distribution function in the limit of infinite data. This function is a basic building block of hypothesis testing workflows that attempt to answer the question "does my data come from a given distribution?" These tests require computing quadratures over some function of the empirical CDF and the supposed CDF to create a distance measurement, and hence it is occasionally useful to construct a continuous callable from the data.

An example usage is demonstrated below:

#include <vector>
#include <random>
#include <boost/math/distributions/empirical_cumulative_distribution_function.hpp>
using boost::math::empirical_cumulative_distribution_function;
std::random_device rd;
std::mt19937 gen{rd()};
std::normal_distribution<double> dis(0, 1);
size_t n = 128;
std::vector<double> v(n);
for (size_t i = 0; i < n; ++i) {
  v[i] = dis(gen);

auto ecdf = empirical_cumulative_distribution_function(std::move(v));
std::cout << "ecdf(0.0) = " << ecdf(0.0) << "\n";
// should print approximately 0.5 . . .

The empirical distribution function requires sorted data. By default, the constructor sorts it for you at O(Nlog(N)) cost.

If your data is already sorted, you can specify this and the constructor simply moves your data into the class:

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end());
auto ecdf = empirical_cumulative_distribution_function(std::move(v), /* already sorted = */ true);

If you want your data back after being done with the object, use

v = ecdf.return_data();

This operation invalidates ecdf; it can no longer be used.

The call operator complexity is O(log(N)), as it requires a call to std::upper_bound.

Works with both integer and floating point types. If the input data consists of integers, the output of the call operator is a double. Requires C++17.

Benchmark                                         Time
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/8                4.52 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/16               5.20 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/32               5.22 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/64               7.37 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/128              7.16 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/256              8.97 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/512              8.44 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/1024             9.07 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/2048             11.4 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/4096             12.6 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/8192             11.4 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/16384            16.0 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/32768            17.0 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/65536            19.5 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/131072           15.8 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/262144           17.9 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/524288           26.7 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/1048576          29.5 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/2097152          31.8 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/4194304          32.8 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/8388608          35.4 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>/16777216         30.4 ns
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>_BigO             1.27 lgN
ECDFConstructorSorted<double>_RMS                20 %
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/8               155 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/64             2095 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/512           22212 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/4096         220821 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/32768       1996380 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/262144     18916039 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/2097152   194250013 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>/16777216 2281469424 ns
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>_BigO           5.65 NlgN
ECDFConstructorUnsorted<double>_RMS               6 %
Shuffle<double>/8                              82.4 ns
Shuffle<double>/64                              731 ns
Shuffle<double>/512                            5876 ns
Shuffle<double>/4096                          46864 ns
Shuffle<double>/32768                        385265 ns
Shuffle<double>/262144                      4663866 ns
Shuffle<double>/2097152                    54686332 ns
Shuffle<double>/16777216                  875309099 ns
Shuffle<double>_BigO                           2.16 NlgN
Shuffle<double>_RMS                              12 %
ECDFEvaluation<double>/8                       48.6 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/64                      61.3 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/512                     85.1 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/4096                     105 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/32768                    131 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/262144                   196 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/2097152                  391 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>/16777216                 715 ns
ECDFEvaluation<double>_BigO                   18.19 lgN
ECDFEvaluation<double>_RMS                       60 %

The call to the unsorted constructor is in fact a little faster than indicated, as the data must be shuffled after being sorted in the benchmark. This is itself a fairly expensive operation.