In statistics and uncertainty analysis, the Welch–Satterthwaite equation is used to calculate an approximation to the effective degrees of freedom of a linear combination of independent sample variances.
For n sample variances si2 (i = 1, ..., n), each respectively having νi degrees of freedom, often one computes the linear combination
In general, the probability distribution of χ' cannot be expressed analytically. However, its distribution can be approximated by another chi-squared distribution, whose effective degrees of freedom are given by the Welch–Satterthwaite equation
There is no assumption that the underlying population variances σi2 are equal. This is know as the Behrens–Fisher problem.
- Satterthwaite, F. E. (1946), "An Approximate Distribution of Estimates of Variance Components.", Biometrics Bulletin 2: 110–114, doi:10.2307/3002019
- Welch, B. L. (1947), "The generalization of "student's" problem when several different population variances are involved.", Biometrika 34: 28–35, doi:10.2307/2332510
- Neter, John; John Neter; William Wasserman; Michael H. Kutner (1990). Applied Linear Statistical Models. Richard D. Irwin, Inc. ISBN 0-256-08338-X.