Iavor Bojinov (Applied Statistics)


Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


CGIS Knafel, room K354

Today's Speaker

Iavor Bojinov (HBS), "Design and Analysis of Switchback Experiments"


Switchback experiments, where a firm sequentially exposes an experimental unit to random treatments, are among the most prevalent designs used in the technology sector, with applications ranging from ride-hailing platforms to online marketplaces. Although practitioners have widely adopted this technique, the derivation of the optimal design has been elusive, hindering practitioners from drawing valid causal conclusions with enough statistical power. We address this limitation by deriving the optimal design of switchback experiments under a range of different assumptions on the order of the carryover effect --- the length of time a treatment persists in impacting the outcome. We cast the optimal experimental design problem as a minimax discrete optimization problem, identify the worst-case adversarial strategy, establish structural results, and solve the reduced problem via a continuous relaxation. For switchback experiments conducted under the optimal design, we provide two approaches for performing inference. The first provides exact randomization based $p$-values, and the second uses a new finite population central limit theorem to conduct conservative hypothesis tests and build confidence intervals. We further provide theoretical results when the order of the carryover effect is misspecified and provide a data-driven procedure to identify the order of the carryover effect. We conduct extensive simulations to study the numerical performance and empirical properties of our results, and conclude with practical suggestions.

The Applied Statistics Workshop (Gov 3009) meets all academic year, Wednesdays, 12pm-1:30pm, in CGIS K354. This workshop is a forum for advanced graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present and discuss methodological or empirical work in progress in an interdisciplinary setting. The workshop features a tour of Harvard's statistical innovations and applications with weekly stops in different fields and disciplines and includes occasional presentations by invited speakers.

More information is available at the Gov 3009 website: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/applied.stats.workshop-gov3009