Journal of Medical ImagingNonparametric estimation receiver operating characteristic analysis for performance evaluation on combined detection and estimation tasks
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In an effort to generalize task-based assessment beyond traditional signal detection, there is a growing interest in performance evaluation for combined detection and estimation tasks, in which signal parameters, such as size, orientation, and contrast are unknown and must be estimated. One motivation for studying such tasks is their rich complexity, which offers potential advantages for imaging system optimization. To evaluate observer performance on combined detection and estimation tasks, Clarkson introduced the estimation receiver operating characteristic (EROC) curve and the area under the EROC curve as a summary figure of merit. This work provides practical tools for EROC analysis of experimental data. In particular, we propose nonparametric estimators for the EROC curve, the area under the EROC curve, and for the variance/covariance matrix of a vector of correlated EROC area estimates. In addition, we show that reliable confidence intervals can be obtained for EROC area, and we validate these intervals with Monte Carlo simulation. Application of our methodology is illustrated with an example comparing magnetic resonance imaging k -space sampling trajectories. MATLAB® software implementing the EROC analysis estimators described in this work is publicly available at http://code.google.com/p/iqmodelo/.