Publication date: 04/12/2021

Covariates with Hard-to-Change Levels

The Custom Design platform enables you to designate covariates as hard-to-change. Suppose that you have measurements on batches of material that are available for use in testing experimental factors. Or suppose that you have measurements on individuals who might be selected to participate in testing experimental factors. These measurements are known in advance of the experiment and are considered to be covariates.

The batches or individuals correspond to whole plots. You might want to use only some of these whole plots in your experiment. Because information about the whole plots in the form of covariates is available, the design should choose the whole plots in an optimal fashion.

The model, as given by the terms that you include in the Model outline, can include interactions and powers constructed using covariates and experimental factors.

Note: When you set Changes for a Covariate factor to Hard, all other covariates are also set to Hard The remaining factors must be set to Easy. Because the algorithm requires a combination of row exchange and coordinate exchange, even moderately sized designs might take some time to generate.

Scenario for an Experiment with a Hard-to-Change Covariate

An experiment involving batches of polypropylene plates is discussed in Goos and Jones (2011, Chapter 9) and Jones and Goos (2015). Large batches of polypropylene plates are produced according to various formulations determined by several variables. Some plates are used immediately, and the remainder are stored for future experimental purposes. The compositions of these stored batches are known.

A customer has certain requirements regarding the plate formulation. Future experiments involve customizing the gas plasma treatment to the types of formulations required by the customer. The composition variables are considered hard-to-change covariates. Gas plasma treatment factors can be applied to sub-batches of plates with a given formulation.

The optimal design identifies the batches (defined by the covariates) to use, determines the number of plates from each batch to use, and provides settings for the gas plasma levels. Note that the optimal number of batches and plates from a given batch depend on the covariates.

An example is provided in Examples of Custom Designs.

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