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Genetics. 2009 Dec;183(4):1431-41. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.108977. Epub 2009 Sep 21.

Exact tests for Hardy-Weinberg proportions.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Exact conditional tests are often required to evaluate statistically whether a sample of diploids comes from a population with Hardy-Weinberg proportions or to confirm the accuracy of genotype assignments. This requirement is especially common when the sample includes multiple alleles and sparse data, thus rendering asymptotic methods, such as the common chi(2)-test, unreliable. Such an exact test can be performed using the likelihood ratio as its test statistic rather than the more commonly used probability test. Conceptual advantages in using the likelihood ratio are discussed. A substantially improved algorithm is described to permit the performance of a full-enumeration exact test on sample sizes that are too large for previous methods. An improved Monte Carlo algorithm is also proposed for samples that preclude full enumeration. These algorithms are about two orders of magnitude faster than those currently in use. Finally, methods are derived to compute the number of possible samples with a given set of allele counts, a useful quantity for evaluating the feasibility of the full enumeration procedure. Software implementing these methods, ExactoHW, is provided.

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