Digital Computer Simulation : Estimating Sample Size.

by George S. Fishman

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An algorithm for automatically estimating and collecting the sample size required for statistical precision in a computer simulation experiment while the simulation is running. The algorithm, which would be incorporated directly into the computer routines, would relieve an investigator of the burden of first estimating the variance of the sample mean from a data sample obtained from a trial run, then estimating the sample size necessary for the specified confidence interval, and finally collecting that many more observations in a successive simulation run. The underlying probability model is autoregressive: it would depend on an autoregressive representation of the sequence that considers each observation as a linear combination of past observations plus an uncorrelated random residual. This approach need not require more than four or five autocovariance computations to estimate the variance of the sample mean. A flowchart is included to aid in building the technique into simulation programs. 61 pp. Ref

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