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Abstract

Most scientists consider randomized experiments to be the best method available to establish causality. On the Internet, during the past twenty-five years, randomized experiments have become common, often referred to as A/B testing. For practical reasons, much A/B testing does not use pseudo-random number generators to implement randomization. Instead, hash functions are used to transform the distribution of identifiers of experimental units into a uniform distribution. Using two large, industry data sets, I demonstrate that the success of hash-based quasi-randomization strategies depends greatly on the hash function used: MD5 yielded good results, while SHA512 yielded less impressive ones.