Preparing the datacard

The input to combine, which defines the details of the experiment, is a datacard file is a plain ASCII file. This is true whether the experiment is a simple counting experiment or a shape analysis.

A simple counting experiment

The file data/tutorials/counting/realistic-counting-experiment.txt shows an example of a counting experiment.

The first lines can be used as a description and are not parsed by the program. They have to begin with a "#":

# Simple counting experiment, with one signal and a few background processes
# Simplified version of the 35/pb H->WW analysis for mH = 160 GeV

Then one declares the number of observables, imax, that are present in the model used to calculate limits/significances. The number of observables will typically be the number of channels in a counting experiment or the number of bins in a binned shape fit. (If one specifies for imax the value * it means "figure it out from the rest of the datacard", but in order to better catch mistakes it's recommended to specify it explicitly)

imax 1  number of channels

Then one declares the number of background sources to be considered, jmax, and the number of independent sources of systematic uncertainties, kmax:

jmax 3  number of backgrounds
kmax 5  number of nuisance parameters (sources of systematic uncertainties)

In the example there is 1 channel, there are 3 background sources, and there are 5 independent sources of systematic uncertainty.

Then there are the lines describing what is actually observed: the number of events observed in each channel. The first line, starting with bin defines the label used for each channel. In the example we have 1 channel, labelled 1, and in the following line, observation, are listed the events observed, 0 in this example:

# we have just one channel, in which we observe 0 events
bin bin1
observation 0

Following is the part related to the number of events expected, for each bin and process, arranged in (#channels)*(#processes) columns.

bin          bin1     bin1     bin1     bin1
process         ggH  qqWW  ggWW  others
process          0     1     2     3
rate           1.47  0.63  0.06  0.22

All bins should be declared in increasing order, and within each bin one should include all processes in increasing order, specifying a 0 for processes that do not contribute.

The last section contains the description of the systematic uncertainties:

lumi    lnN    1.11    -   1.11    -    lumi affects both signal and gg->WW (mc-driven). lnN = lognormal
xs_ggH  lnN    1.16    -     -     -    gg->H cross section + signal efficiency + other minor ones.
WW_norm gmN 4    -   0.16    -     -    WW estimate of 0.64 comes from sidebands: 4 events in sideband times 0.16 (=> ~50% statistical uncertainty)
xs_ggWW lnN      -     -   1.50    -    50% uncertainty on gg->WW cross section
bg_others lnN    -     -     -   1.30   30% uncertainty on the rest of the backgrounds

In the example, there are 5 uncertainties:

Shape analysis

The datacard has to be supplemented with two extensions:

The expected shape can be parametric or not parametric. In the first case the parametric pdfs have to be given as input to the tool. In the latter case, for each channel, histograms have to be provided for the expected shape of each process. For what concerns data, they have to be provided as input to the tool as a histogram to perform a binned shape analysis and as a RooDataSet to perform an unbinned shape analysis.


If using RooFit based inputs (RooDataHists/RooDataSets/RooAbsPdfs) then you should be careful to use different RooRealVars as the observable in each category being combined. It is possible to use the same RooRealVar if the observable has the same range (and binning if using binned data) in each category though in most cases it is simpler to avoid doing so.

Rates for shape analysis

As with the counting experiment, the total nominal rate of a given process must be identified in the rate line of the datacard. However, there are special options for shape based analyses as follows

Binned shape analysis

For each channel, histograms have to be provided for the observed shape and for the expected shape of each process.

The combine tool can take as input histograms saved as TH1, as RooAbsHist in a RooFit workspace (an example of how to create a RooFit workspace and save histograms is available in github), or from a pandas dataframe (example)

The block of lines defining the mapping (first block in the datacard) contains one or more rows in the form

In this line

In addition, user defined keywords can be included to be replaced. Any word in the datacard $WORD will be replaced by VALUE when including the option --keyword-value WORD=VALUE. The option can be repeated multiple times for multiple keywords.

Template shape uncertainties

Shape uncertainties can be taken into account by vertical interpolation of the histograms. The shapes (fraction of events f in each bin) are interpolated using a spline for shifts below +/- 1σ and linearly outside of that. Specifically, for nuisance parameter values |\theta|\leq 1

f(\theta) = \frac{1}{2} \left( (\delta^{+}-\delta^{-})\theta + \frac{1}{8}(\delta^{+}+\delta^{-})(3\theta^6 - 10\theta^4 + 15\theta^2) \right)

and for |\theta|> 1 (|\theta|<-1), f(\theta) is a straight line with gradient \delta^{+} (\delta^{-}), where \delta^{+}=f(\theta=1)-f(\theta=0), and \delta^{-}=f(\theta=-1)-f(\theta=0), derived using the nominal and up/down histograms. and This interpolation is designed so that the values of f(\theta) and its derivatives are continuous for all values of \theta.

The normalizations are interpolated linearly in log scale just like we do for log-normal uncertainties. If the value in a given bin is negative for some value of \theta, the value will be truncated at 0.

For each shape uncertainty and process/channel affected by it, two additional input shapes have to be provided, obtained shifting that parameter up and down by one standard deviation. When building the likelihood, each shape uncertainty is associated to a nuisance parameter taken from a unit gaussian distribution, which is used to interpolate or extrapolate using the specified histograms.

For each given source of shape uncertainty, in the part of the datacard containing shape uncertainties (last block), there must be a row

The effect can be "-" or 0 for no effect, 1 for normal effect, and possibly something different from 1 to test larger or smaller effects (in that case, the unit gaussian is scaled by that factor before using it as parameter for the interpolation)

The datacard in data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-TH1.txt is a clear example of how to include shapes in the datacard. In the first block the following line specifies the shape mapping:

shapes * * simple-shapes-TH1.root $PROCESS $PROCESS_$SYSTEMATIC

The last block concerns the treatment of the systematics affecting shapes. In this part the two uncertainties effecting on the shape are listed.

alpha  shape    -           1   uncertainty on background shape and normalization
sigma  shape    0.5         -   uncertainty on signal resolution. Assume the histogram is a 2 sigma shift,
#                                so divide the unit gaussian by 2 before doing the interpolation

There are two options for the interpolation algorithm in the "shape" uncertainty. Putting shape will result in a of the fraction of events in each bin - i.e the histograms are first normalised before interpolation. Putting shapeN while instead base the interpolation on the logs of the fraction in each bin. For both shape and shapeN, the total normalisation is interpolated using an asymmetric log-normal so that the effect of the systematic on both the shape and normalisation are accounted for. The following image shows a comparison of those two algorithms for this datacard.

In this case there are two processes, signal and background, and two uncertainties affecting background (alpha) and signal shape (sigma). Within the root file 2 histograms per systematic have to be provided, they are the shape obtained, for the specific process, shifting up and down the parameter associated to the uncertainty: background_alphaUp and background_alphaDown, signal_sigmaUp and signal_sigmaDown.

This is the content of the root file simple-shapes-TH1.root associated to the datacard data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-TH1.txt:

root [0]
Attaching file simple-shapes-TH1.root as _file0...
root [1] _file0->ls()
TFile**     simple-shapes-TH1.root
 TFile*     simple-shapes-TH1.root
  KEY: TH1F signal;1    Histogram of signal__x
  KEY: TH1F signal_sigmaUp;1    Histogram of signal__x
  KEY: TH1F signal_sigmaDown;1  Histogram of signal__x
  KEY: TH1F background;1    Histogram of background__x
  KEY: TH1F background_alphaUp;1    Histogram of background__x
  KEY: TH1F background_alphaDown;1  Histogram of background__x
  KEY: TH1F data_obs;1  Histogram of data_obs__x
  KEY: TH1F data_sig;1  Histogram of data_sig__x

For example, without shape uncertainties you could have just one row with shapes * * shapes.root $CHANNEL/$PROCESS Then for a simple example for two channels "e", "mu" with three processes "higgs", "zz", "top" you should create a rootfile that contains the following

histogram meaning
e/data_obs observed data in electron channel
e/higgs expected shape for higgs in electron channel
e/zz expected shape for ZZ in electron channel
e/top expected shape for top in electron channel
mu/data_obs observed data in muon channel
mu/higgs expected shape for higgs in muon channel
mu/zz expected shape for ZZ in muon channel
mu/top expected shape for top in muon channel

If you also have one uncertainty that affects the shape, e.g. jet energy scale, you should create shape histograms for the jet energy scale shifted up by one sigma, you could for example do one folder for each process and write a like like

shapes * * shapes.root $CHANNEL/$PROCESS/nominal $CHANNEL/$PROCESS/$SYSTEMATIC

or just attach a postifx to the name of the histogram



If you have a nuisance parameter which has shape effects (using shape) and rate effects (using lnN) you should use a single line for the systemstic uncertainty with shape?. This will tell combine to fist look for Up/Down systematic templates for that process and if it doesnt find them, it will interpret the number that you put for the process as a lnN instead.

For a detailed example of a template based binned analysis see the H→ττ 2014 DAS tutorial

Unbinned or parametric shape analysis

In some cases, it can be convenient to describe the expected signal and background shapes in terms of analytical functions rather than templates; a typical example are the searches where the signal is apparent as a narrow peak over a smooth continuum background. In this context, uncertainties affecting the shapes of the signal and backgrounds can be implemented naturally as uncertainties on the parameters of those analytical functions. It is also possible to adapt an agnostic approach in which the parameters of the background model are left freely floating in the fit to the data, i.e. only requiring the background to be well described by a smooth function.

Technically, this is implemented by means of the RooFit package, that allows writing generic probability density functions, and saving them into ROOT files. The pdfs can be either taken from RooFit's standard library of functions (e.g. Gaussians, polynomials, ...) or hand-coded in C++, and combined together to form even more complex shapes.

In the datacard using templates, the column after the file name would have been the name of the histogram. For the parametric analysis we need two names to identify the mapping, separated by a colon (:).

shapes process channel shapes.root workspace_name:pdf_name

The first part identifies the name of the input RooWorkspace containing the pdf, and the second part the name of the RooAbsPdf inside it (or, for the observed data, the RooAbsData). There can be multiple input workspaces, just as there can be multiple input root files. You can use any of the usual RooFit pre-defined pdfs for your signal and background models.


If you are using RooAddPdfs in your model in which the coefficients are not defined recursively, combine will not interpret them properly. You can add the option --X-rtd ADDNLL_RECURSIVE=0 to any combine command in order to recover the correct interpretation, however we recommend that you instead redefine your pdf so that the coefficients are recursive (as described on the RooAddPdf documentation) and keep the total normalisation (i.e extended term) as a separate object as in the case of the tutorial datacard.

For example, take a look at the data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.txt. We see the following line.

shapes * * simple-shapes-parametric_input.root w:$PROCESS
bin          1          1
process      sig    bkg

which indicates that the input file simple-shapes-parametric_input.root should contain an input workspace (w) with pdfs named sig and bkg since these are the names of the two processes in the datacard. Additionally, we expect there to be a dataset named data_obs. If we look at the contents of the workspace inside data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric_input.root, this is indeed what we see...

root [1] w->Print()

RooWorkspace(w) w contents


RooChebychev::bkg[ x=j coefList=(cc_a0,cc_a1,cc_a2) ] = 2.6243
RooVoigtian::sig[ x=j mean=MH width=vogian_width sigma=vogian_sigma ] = 0.000639771


In this datacard, the signal is parameterised in terms of the hypothesised mass (MH). Combine will use this variable, instead of creating its own, which will be interpreted as the value for -m. For this reason, we should add the option -m 30 (or something else within the observable range) when running combine. You will also see there is a variable named bkg_norm. This is used to normalize the background rate (see the section on Rate parameters below for details).


Combine will not accept RooExtendedPdfs as an input. This is to alleviate a bug that lead to improper treatment of normalization when using multiple RooExtendedPdfs to describe a single process. You should instead use RooAbsPdfs and provide the rate as a separate object (see the Rate parameters section).

The part of the datacard related to the systematics can include lines with the syntax

These lines encode uncertainties on the parameters of the signal and background pdfs. The parameter is to be assigned a Gaussian uncertainty of Y around its mean value of X. One can change the mean value from 0 to 1 (or really any value, if one so chooses) if the parameter in question is multiplicative instead of additive.

In the data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.txt datacard, there are lines for one such parametric uncertainty,

sigma   param 1.0      0.1

meaning there is a parameter already contained in the input workspace called sigma which should be constrained with a Gaussian centered at 1.0 with a width of 0.1. Note that, the exact interpretation (i.e all combine knows is that 1.0 should be the most likely value and 0.1 is its 1σ uncertainy) of these parameters is left to the user since the signal pdf is constructed externally by you. Asymmetric uncertainties are written as with lnN using the syntax -1σ/+1σ in the datacard.

If one wants to specify a parameter that is freely floating across its given range, and not gaussian constrained, the following syntax is used:

Though this is not strictly necessary in frequentist methods using profiled likelihoods as combine will still profile these nuisances when performing fits (as is the case for the simple-shapes-parametric.txt datacard).


All parameters which are floating or constant in the user's input workspaces will remain floating or constant. Combine will not modify those for you!

A full example of a parametric analysis can be found in this H→γγ 2014 DAS tutorial

Caveat on using parametric pdfs with binned datasets

Users should be aware of a feature that affects the use of parametric pdfs together with binned datasets.

RooFit uses the integral of the pdf, computed analytically (or numerically, but disregarding the binning), to normalize it, but then computes the expected event yield in each bin evaluating only the pdf at the bin center. This means that if the variation of the pdf is sizeable within the bin then there is a mismatch between the sum of the event yields per bin and the pdf normalization, and that can cause a bias in the fits (more properly, the bias is there if the contribution of the second derivative integrated on the bin size is not negligible, since for linear functions evaluating them at the bin center is correct). There are two reccomended ways to work around this ...

1. Use narrow bins

It is recommended to use bins that are significantly finer than the characteristic scale of the pdfs - which would anyway be the recommended thing even in the absence of this feature. Obviously, this caveat does not apply to analyses using templates (they're constant across each bin, so there's no bias), or using unbinned datasets.

2. Use a RooParametricShapeBinPdf

Another solution (currently implemented for 1-dimensional histograms only) is to use a custom pdf which performs the correct integrals internally as in RooParametricShapeBinPdf

Note that this pdf class now allows parameters that are themselves RooAbsReal objects (i.e. functions of other variables). The integrals are handled internally by calling the underlying pdf’s createIntegral() method with named ranges created for each of the bins. This means that if the analytical integrals for the underlying pdf are available, they will be used.

The constructor for this class requires a RooAbsReal (eg any RooAbsPdf)along with a list of RooRealVars (the parameters, excluding the observable x),

RooParametricShapeBinPdf(const char *name, const char *title,  RooAbsReal& _pdf, RooAbsReal& _x, RooArgList& _pars, const TH1 &_shape )

Below is a comparison of a fit to a binned dataset containing 1000 events with one observable 0 \leq x \leq 100. The fit function is a RooExponential of the form e^{xp}.

Narrow bins Wide bins

In the upper plot, the data are binned in 100 evenly spaced bins, while in the lower plot, there are 3 irregular bins. The blue lines show the result of the fit when using the RooExponential directly while the red shows the result when wrapping the pdf inside a RooParametricShapeBinPdf. In the narrow binned case, the two agree well while for wide bins, accounting for the integral over the bin yields a better fit.

You should note that using this class will result in slower fits so you should first decide if the added accuracy is enough to justify the reduced efficiency.

Beyond simple datacards

Datacards can be extended in order to provide additional functionality and flexibility during runtime. These can also allow for the production of more complicated models and performing advanced computation of results beyond limits and significances.

Rate parameters

The overall rate "expected" of a particular process in a particular bin does not necessarily need to be a fixed quantity. Scale factors can be introduced to modify the rate directly in the datacards for ANY type of analysis. This can be achieved using the directive rateParam in the datacard with the following syntax,

name rateParam bin process initial_value [min,max]

The [min,max] argument is optional and if not included, combine will remove the range of this parameter. This will produce a new parameter in the model (unless it already exists) which multiplies the rate of that particular process in the given bin by its value.

You can attach the same rateParam to multiple processes/bins by either using a wild card (eg * will match everything, QCD_* will match everything starting with QCD_ etc.) in the name of the bin and/or process or by repeating the rateParam line in the datacard for different bins/processes with the same name.


rateParam is not a shortcut to evaluate the post-fit yield of a process since other nuisances can also change the normalisation. E.g., finding that the rateParam best-fit value is 0.9 does not necessarily imply that the process yield is 0.9 times the initial one. The best is to evaluate the yield taking into account the values of all nuisance parameters using --saveNormalizations.

This parameter is by default, freely floating. It is possible to include a Gaussian constraint on any rateParam which is floating (i.e not a formula or spline) by adding a param nuisance line in the datacard with the same name.

In addition to rate modifiers which are freely floating, modifiers which are functions of other parameters can be included using the following syntax,

name rateParam bin process formula args

where args is a comma separated list of the arguments for the string formula. You can include other nuisance parameters in the formula, including ones which are Gaussian constrained (i,e via the param directive.)

Below is an example datacard which uses the rateParam directive to implement an ABCD like method in combine. For a more realistic description of it's use for ABCD, see the single-lepton SUSY search implementation described here

imax 4  number of channels
jmax 0  number of processes -1
kmax *  number of nuisance parameters (sources of systematical uncertainties)
bin                   B      C       D        A
observation           50    100      500      10
bin                   B      C       D        A
process               bkg    bkg     bkg      bkg
process               1      1       1         1
rate                  1      1       1         1

alpha rateParam A bkg (@0*@1/@2) beta,gamma,delta
beta  rateParam B bkg 50
gamma rateParam C bkg 100
delta rateParam D bkg 500

For more examples of using rateParam (eg for fitting process normalisations in control regions and signal regions simultaneously) see this 2016 CMS tutorial

Finally, any pre-existing RooAbsReal inside some rootfile with a workspace can be imported using the following

name rateParam bin process rootfile:workspacename

The name should correspond to the name of the object which is being picked up inside the RooWorkspace. A simple example using the SM XS and BR splines available in HiggsAnalysis/CombinedLimit can be found under data/tutorials/rate_params/simple_sm_datacard.txt

After running on your datacard, you can check the normalisation objects using the tool test/ See the example below for the data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.txt datacard. data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.txt
  python test/ data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.root

  Channel - bin1
    Top-level normalisation for process bkg -> n_exp_final_binbin1_proc_bkg
  RooProduct::n_exp_final_binbin1_proc_bkg[ n_exp_binbin1_proc_bkg * shapeBkg_bkg_bin1__norm ] = 521.163
   ... is a product, which contains  n_exp_binbin1_proc_bkg
  RooRealVar::n_exp_binbin1_proc_bkg = 1 C  L(-INF - +INF)
    default value =  521.163204829
    Top-level normalisation for process sig -> n_exp_binbin1_proc_sig
  Dumping ProcessNormalization n_exp_binbin1_proc_sig @ 0x464f700
      nominal value: 1
      log-normals (1):
           kappa = 1.1, logKappa = 0.0953102, theta = lumi = 0
      asymm log-normals (0):
      other terms (1):
           term r (class RooRealVar), value = 1

    default value =  1.0

This tells us that the normalisation for the background process, named n_exp_final_binbin1_proc_bkg is a product of two objects n_exp_binbin1_proc_bkg * shapeBkg_bkg_bin1__norm. The first object is just from the rate line in the datacard (equal to 1) and the second is a floating parameter. For the signal, the normalisation is called n_exp_binbin1_proc_sig and is a ProcessNormalization object which contains the rate modifications due to the systematic uncertainties. You can see that it also has a "nominal value" which again is just from the value given in the rate line of the datacard (again=1).

Extra arguments

If a parameter is intended to be used and it is not a user defined param or rateParam, it can be picked up by first issuing an extArgs directive before this line in the datacard. The syntax for extArgs is

name extArg rootfile:workspacename

The string ":RecycleConflictNodes" can be added at the end of the final argument (i.e. rootfile:workspacename:RecycleConflictNodes) to apply the corresponding RooFit option when the object is imported into the workspace. It is also possible to simply add a RooRealVar using extArg for use in function rateParams with the following

name extArg init [min,max]

Note that the [min,max] argument is optional and if not included, the code will remove the range of this parameter.

Manipulation of Nuisance parameters

It can often be useful to modify datacards, or the runtime behavior, without having to modify individual systematics lines. This can be acheived through the following.

Nuisance modifiers

If a nuisance parameter needs to be renamed for certain processes/channels, it can be done so using a single nuisance edit directive at the end of a datacard

nuisance edit rename process channel oldname newname [options]

Note that the wildcard (*) can be used for either/both of process and channel. This will have the effect that nuisance parameter effecting a given process/channel will be renamed, thereby de-correlating it from other processes/channels. Use options ifexists to skip/avoid error if nuisance not found. This kind of command will only effect nuisances of the type shape[N], lnN. Instead, if you also want to change the names of param type nuisances, you can use a global version

nuisance edit rename oldname newname

which will rename all shape[N], lnN and param nuisances found in one go. You should make sure these commands come after any process/channel specific ones in the datacard. This version does not accept options.

Other edits are also supported as follows,

The above edits (excluding the renaming) support nuisances which are any of shape[N], lnN, lnU, gmN, param, flatParam, rateParam or discrete types.

Groups of nuisances

Often it is desirable to freeze one or more nuisances to check the impact they have on limits, likelihood scans, significances etc.

However, for large groups of nuisances (eg everything associated to theory) it is easier to define nuisance groups in the datacard. The following line in a datacard will, for example, produce a group of nuisances with the group name theory which contains two parameters, QCDscale and pdf.

theory group = QCDscale pdf

Multiple groups can be defined in this way. It is also possible to extend nuisance groups in datacards using += in place of =.

These groups can be manipulated at runtime (eg for freezing all nuisances associated to a group at runtime, see Running the tool). You can find more info on groups of nuisances here

Note that when using the automatic addition of statistical uncertainties (autoMCStats), the corresponding nuisance parameters are created by and so do not exist in the datacards. It is therefore not possible to add autoMCStats parameters to groups of nuisances in the way described above. However, will automatically create a group labelled autoMCStats which contains all autoMCStats parameters.

This group is useful for freezing all parameters created by autoMCStats. For freezing subsets of the parameters, for example if the datacard contains two categories, cat_label_1 and cat_label_2, to only freeze the autoMCStat parameters created for category cat_label_1 the regular expression features can be used. In this example this can be achieved by using --freezeParameters 'rgx{prop_bincat_label_1_bin.*}'.

Combination of multiple datacards

If you have separate channels each with it's own datacard, it is possible to produce a combined datacard using the script

The syntax is simple: Name1=card1.txt Name2=card2.txt .... > card.txt If the input datacards had just one bin each, then the output channels will be called Name1, Name2, and so on. Otherwise, a prefix Name1_ ... Name2_ will be added to the bin labels in each datacard. The supplied bin names Name1, Name2, etc. must themselves conform to valid C++/python identifier syntax.


Systematics which have different names will be assumed to be uncorrelated, and the ones with the same name will be assumed 100% correlated. A systematic correlated across channels must have the same p.d.f. in all cards (i.e. always lnN, or all gmN with same N)

The script will complain if you are trying to combine a shape datacard with a counting datacard. You can however convert a counting datacard in an equivalent shape-based one by adding a line shapes * * FAKE in the datacard after the imax, jmax and kmax section. Alternatively, you can add the option -S in which will do this for you while making the combination.

Automatic production of datacards and workspaces

For complicated analyses or cases in which multiple datacards are needed (e.g. optimisation studies), you can avoid writing these by hand. The object Datacard defines the analysis and can be created as a python object. The template python script below will produce the same workspace as running (see the section on Physics Models) on the realistic-counting-experiment.txt datacard.

from HiggsAnalysis.CombinedLimit.DatacardParser import *
from HiggsAnalysis.CombinedLimit.ModelTools import *
from HiggsAnalysis.CombinedLimit.ShapeTools import *
from HiggsAnalysis.CombinedLimit.PhysicsModel import *

from sys import exit
from optparse import OptionParser
parser = OptionParser()
options,args = parser.parse_args()
options.bin = True # make a binary workspace

DC = Datacard()
MB = None

############## Setup the datacard (must be filled in) ###########################

DC.bins =   ['bin1'] # <type 'list'>
DC.obs =    {'bin1': 0.0} # <type 'dict'>
DC.processes =  ['ggH', 'qqWW', 'ggWW', 'others'] # <type 'list'>
DC.signals =    ['ggH'] # <type 'list'>
DC.isSignal =   {'qqWW': False, 'ggWW': False, 'ggH': True, 'others': False} # <type 'dict'>
DC.keyline =    [('bin1', 'ggH', True), ('bin1', 'qqWW', False), ('bin1', 'ggWW', False), ('bin1', 'others', False)] # <type 'list'>
DC.exp =    {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.63, 'ggWW': 0.06, 'ggH': 1.47, 'others': 0.22}} # <type 'dict'>
DC.systs =  [('lumi', False, 'lnN', [], {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.0, 'ggWW': 1.11, 'ggH': 1.11, 'others': 0.0}}), ('xs_ggH', False, 'lnN', [], {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.0, 'ggWW': 0.0, 'ggH': 1.16, 'others': 0.0}}), ('WW_norm', False, 'gmN', [4], {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.16, 'ggWW': 0.0, 'ggH': 0.0, 'others': 0.0}}), ('xs_ggWW', False, 'lnN', [], {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.0, 'ggWW': 1.5, 'ggH': 0.0, 'others': 0.0}}), ('bg_others', False, 'lnN', [], {'bin1': {'qqWW': 0.0, 'ggWW': 0.0, 'ggH': 0.0, 'others': 1.3}})] # <type 'list'>
DC.shapeMap =   {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.hasShapes =  False # <type 'bool'>
DC.flatParamNuisances =  {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.rateParams =  {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.extArgs =    {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.rateParamsOrder  =  set([]) # <type 'set'>
DC.frozenNuisances  =  set([]) # <type 'set'>
DC.systematicsShapeMap =  {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.nuisanceEditLines    =  [] # <type 'list'>
DC.groups   =  {} # <type 'dict'>
DC.discretes    =  [] # <type 'list'>

###### User defined options #############################################

options.out      = "combine_workspace.root"     # Output workspace name
options.fileName = "./"             # Path to input ROOT files
options.verbose  = "1"              # Verbosity


if DC.hasShapes:
    MB = ShapeBuilder(DC, options)
    MB = CountingModelBuilder(DC, options)

# Set physics models

Any existing datacard can be converted into such a template python script by using the --dump-datacard option in in case a more complicated template is needed.


The above is not advised for final results as this script is not easily combined with other analyses so should only be used for internal studies.

For the automatic generation of datacards (which are combinable), you should instead use the CombineHarvester package which includes many features for producing complex datacards in a reliable, automated way.

Sanity checking the datacard

For large combinations with multiple channels/processes etc, the .txt file can get unweildy to read through. There are some simple tools to help check and disseminate the contents of the cards.

In order to get a quick view of the systematic uncertainties included in the datacard, you can use the test/ tool. This will produce a list of the systematic uncertainties (normalisation and shape), indicating what type they are, which channels/processes they affect and the size of the affect on the normalisation (for shape uncertainties, this will just be the overall uncertaintly on the normalisation information).

The default output is a .html file which allows you to expand to give more details about the affect of the systematic for each channel/process. Add the option --format brief to give a simpler summary report direct to the terminal. An example output for the tutorial card data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-TH1.txt is shown below.

$ python test/ data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-TH1.txt > out.html

systematics analyzer output

In case you only have a cut-and-count style card, include the option --noshape.

If you have a datacard which uses several rateParams or a Physics model which includes some complicated product of normalisation terms in each process, you can check the values of the normalisation (and which objects in the workspace comprise them) using the test/ tool. As an example, below is the first few blocks of output for the tutorial card data/tutorials/counting/realistic-multi-channel.txt.

$ data/tutorials/shapes/simple-shapes-parametric.txt -m 30
$ python test/ data/tutorials/counting/realistic-multi-channel.root                                                                                                           

Channel - mu_tau
  Top-level normalisation for process ZTT -> n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_ZTT
Dumping ProcessNormalization n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_ZTT @ 0x6bbb610
    nominal value: 329
    log-normals (3):
         kappa = 1.23, logKappa = 0.207014, theta = tauid = 0
         kappa = 1.04, logKappa = 0.0392207, theta = ZtoLL = 0
         kappa = 1.04, logKappa = 0.0392207, theta = effic = 0
    asymm log-normals (0):
    other terms (0):

  default value =  329.0
  Top-level normalisation for process QCD -> n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_QCD
Dumping ProcessNormalization n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_QCD @ 0x6bbcaa0
    nominal value: 259
    log-normals (1):
         kappa = 1.1, logKappa = 0.0953102, theta = QCDmu = 0
    asymm log-normals (0):
    other terms (0):

  default value =  259.0
  Top-level normalisation for process higgs -> n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_higgs
Dumping ProcessNormalization n_exp_binmu_tau_proc_higgs @ 0x6bc6390
    nominal value: 0.57
    log-normals (3):
         kappa = 1.11, logKappa = 0.10436, theta = lumi = 0
         kappa = 1.23, logKappa = 0.207014, theta = tauid = 0
         kappa = 1.04, logKappa = 0.0392207, theta = effic = 0
    asymm log-normals (0):
    other terms (1):
         term r (class RooRealVar), value = 1

  default value =  0.57
Channel - e_mu
  Top-level normalisation for process ZTT -> n_exp_bine_mu_proc_ZTT
Dumping ProcessNormalization n_exp_bine_mu_proc_ZTT @ 0x6bc8910
    nominal value: 88
    log-normals (2):
         kappa = 1.04, logKappa = 0.0392207, theta = ZtoLL = 0
         kappa = 1.04, logKappa = 0.0392207, theta = effic = 0
    asymm log-normals (0):
    other terms (0):

  default value =  88.0

As you can see, for each channel, a report is given for the top-level rate object in the workspace, for each process contributing to that channel. You can also see the various terms which make up that rate. The default value is for the default parameters in the workspace (i.e when running text2workspace, these are the values created as default).