Determination of confidence limits for experiments with low numbers of counts

Ralph P. Kraft, David N. Burrows, John A. Nousek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

390 Scopus citations


We compare two different methods, classical and Bayesian, for determining confidence intervals involving Poisson-distributed data. We are specifically concerned with cases where the number of counts observed is small and is comparable to the mean number of background counts. We give our reasons for preferring the Bayesian over the classical method. Tables of confidence limits calculated by the Bayesian method are provided for quick reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-355
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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