Inference on periodicity of circadian time series

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Estimation of the period length of time-course data from cyclical biological processes, such as those driven by the circadian pacemaker, is crucial for inferring the properties of the biological clock found in many living organisms. We propose a methodology for period estimation based on spectrum resampling (SR) techniques. Simulation studies show that SR is superior and more robust to non-sinusoidal and noisy cycles than a currently used routine based on Fourier approximations. In addition, a simple fit to the oscillations using linear least squares is available, together with a non-parametric test for detecting changes in period length which allows for period estimates with different variances, as frequently encountered in practice. The proposed methods are motivated by and applied to various data examples from chronobiology.

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