Re: [R] fisher exact for > 2x2 table

From: Mike Miller <>
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 16:20:26 -0500 (CDT)


Your biostatistician has not disagreed with the rest of us about anything except for his preferred name for the test. He wants to call it the Freeman-Halton test, some people call it the Fisher-Freeman-Halton test, but most people call it the Fisher Exact test -- all are the same test. When he was "adamant you could not do > 2x2", what he was being adamant about was the name you should use when referring to the test for tables larger than 2x2. Why he was doing that, I don't know, but I think it is silly -- he confused you and the rest of us.

He goes on to tell you that to get the Freeman-Halton test in SAS, you use "tables a * b / fisher". In other words, SAS calls the test "Fisher" instead of calling it Freeman-Halton. R also calls it "Fisher" and not Freeman-Halton. I'm like R and SAS and unlike your biostatistician, but to each his own.

You say that he is "exceptionally clear on this point," which may be true, but what is the point? The point is that he prefers a different *name* for the test than the rest of us. Everyone agrees on the math/stat.


Michael B. Miller, Ph.D.
Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research
Department of Psychology
University of Minnesota

On Fri, 29 Apr 2011, viostorm wrote:

> After I shared comments form the forum yesterday with the biostatistician he
> indicated this:
> "Fisher's exact test is the non-parametric analog for the Chi-square
> test for 2x2 comparisons. A version (or extension) of the Fisher's Exact
> test, known as the Freeman-Halton test applies to comparisons for tables
> greater than 2x2. SAS can calculate both statistics using the following
> instructions.
> proc freq; tables a * b / fisher;"
> Do people here still stand by position fisher exact test can be used for RxC
> contingency tables ? Sorry to both you all so much it is just important for
> a paper I am writing and planning to submit soon. ( I have a 4x2 table but
> does not meet expected frequencies requirements for chi-squared.)
> I guess people here have suggested R implements, the following, which
> unfortunately are unavailable at least easily at my library but at least by
> the titles indicates it is extending it to RxC
> Mehta CR, Patel NR. A network algorithm for performing Fisher's exact test
> in r c contingency tables. Journal of the American Statistical Association
> 1983;78:427-34.
> Mehta CR, Patel NR. Algorithm 643: FEXACT: A FORTRAN subroutine for Fisher's
> exact test on unordered r x c contingency tables. ACM Transactions on
> Mathematical Software 1986;12:154-61.
> The only reason I ask again is he is exceptionally clear on this point.
> Thanks again,
> -Rob
______________________________________________ mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
Received on Fri 29 Apr 2011 - 21:25:12 GMT

Archive maintained by Robert King, hosted by the discipline of statistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Archive generated by hypermail 2.2.0, at Fri 29 Apr 2011 - 21:40:34 GMT.

Mailing list information is available at Please read the posting guide before posting to the list.

list of date sections of archive