Ensemble Methods for Testing a Global Null



Testing a global null is a canonical problem in statistics and has a wide range of applications. In view of the fact that no uniformly most powerful test exists, prior and/or domain knowledge are commonly used to focus on a certain class of alternatives to improve the testing power. However, it is generally challenging to develop tests that are particularly powerful against a certain class of alternatives. In this paper, motivated by the success of ensemble learning methods for prediction or classification, we propose an ensemble framework for testing that mimics the spirit of random forests to deal with the challenges. Our ensemble testing framework aggregates a collection of weak base tests to form a final ensemble test that maintains strong and robust power for global nulls. We apply the framework to four problems about global testing in different classes of alternatives arising from Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) association studies. Specific ensemble tests are proposed for each of these problems, and their theoretical optimality is established in terms of Bahadur efficiency. Extensive simulations and an analysis of a real WGS dataset are conducted to demonstrate the type I error control and/or power gain of the proposed ensemble tests.