Toward the estimation of background fluctuations under newly-observed signals in particle physics

Research paper by Federico Colecchia

Indexed on: 16 Dec '14Published on: 16 Dec '14Published in: Physics - Data Analysis; Statistics and Probability


When the number of events associated with a signal process is estimated in particle physics, it is common practice to extrapolate background distributions from control regions to a predefined signal window. This allows accurate estimation of the expected, or average, number of background events under the signal. However, in general, the actual number of background events can deviate from the average due to fluctuations in the data. Such a difference can be sizable when compared to the number of signal events in the early stages of data analysis following the observation of a new particle, as well as in the analysis of rare decay channels. We report on the development of a data-driven technique that aims to estimate the actual, as opposed to the expected, number of background events in a predefined signal window. We discuss results on toy Monte Carlo data and provide a preliminary estimate of systematic uncertainty.