IBD: Program for Constructing Optimal and Near-Optimal Incomplete Block Designs

  1. Introduction
  2. Using IBD
  3. Output
  4. Examples
  5. References


An incomplete block design (IBD) of size (v,k,r) is an arrangement of v treatments set out in blocks of size k (<v) such that each treatment is replicated r times. We confine to binary IBDs, i.e. IBDs in which no treatment occurs more than once in a block. An IBD is said to be a balanced IBD, or BIBD, if every pair of treatments occurs in exactly blocks. IBDs in Examples 2, 4 and 9 are examples of BIBDs. An IBD is said to be t-resolvable if its blocks can be divided into subsets and each subset is an IBD of size (v,k,t). IBDs in Examples 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are examples of 1-resolvable IBDs or resolvable IBDs. IBDs in Examples 2 and 10 are examples of 2-resolvable IBDs. Some recommended references on IBDs are John (1980), John & Williams (1995) and Raghavarao & Padgett (2005). See Nguyen & Blagoeva (2010) for a quick reference on this subject.

IBD is a Gendex program for constructing optimal or near-optimal IBDs (resolvable and non-resolvable). The optimality criterion and the algorithm used in IBD is discussed in Nguyen (1993, 1994). Designs produced by IBD are comparable to α-designs of Patterson & Williams (1976) and generalized cyclic designs of Hall & Jarrett (1981) in terms of the efficiency factor E of the design. These designs, in turn, can be used as column components of row-column designs (Nguyen & Williams 1993; Nguyen 1997).

Using IBD

Let's assume all Gendex class files are in the directory c:\gendex and suppose you want to construct a resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(6,2,4) (Example 1). At the working directory, type the following command at the Command Prompt (case is important):

java -cp c:\gendex IBD

The IBD GUI will pop up. Enter the values 6, 2 and 4 in the (v,k,r) combination fields, the IBD GUI will become:

Now click START, since the combination (v,k,r)=(6,2,4) allows resolvable IBD, the following question will pop up:

Click Yes, IBD will start running and after try 1, the plan of the constructed design pops up in the IBD output window (as the ratio E/U reaches 1) and IBD stops:

The START button has changed to RESET button. If you click this RESET button, the output will disappear and you can use IBD for a new design problem. Note that the default random seed is the one obtained from the system clock and the default number of tries is 1000. You can change these default values if you wish to.


The result of the best try is displayed in the IBD output window and is also saved in the file IBD.htm in the working directory. This file can be read by a browser such as IE or Google Chrome. Information for this try includes:

  1. Try number;
  2. The number of iterations;
  3. E, the efficiency factor of this design.
  4. The ratio E/U where U is the upper bound of an IBD. U=UJ for non-resolvable IBDs and U=min(UJ,UWP) for resolvable IBDs. UWP is the bound of Williams & Patterson (1977) good for any resolvable IBDs with v≥b. UJ is the bound of Jarrett (1989) good for any regular graph design (RGD). RGDs are IBDs with concurrences differing by at most 1. IBDs in Examples 1-6 and 8-10 are examples of RGDs. The program automatically stops if this ratio reaches 1.
  5. The distribution of the concurrences of this design;
  6. The design plan and the associated random seed;
  7. The time in seconds IBD used to construct this design.

An additional output of a IBD session is the file form.htm. This file contains the randomized plan of the constructed design.


  1. A resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(6,2,4) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b1.html).
  2. A 2-resolvable BIBD of size (v,k,r)=(6,4,10). (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b2.html).
  3. An IBD of size (v,k,r)=(14,5,10) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b3.html).
  4. A BIBD of size (v,k,r)=(15,5,14) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b4.html).
  5. An IBD of size (v,k,r)=(60,9,3) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b5.html).
  6. A resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(30,5,4) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b6.html).
  7. A resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(36,6,4) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b7.html).
  8. A resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(98,7,2) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b8.html).
  9. A resolvable BIBD of size (v,k,r)=(15,3,7) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b9.html).
  10. A 2-resolvable IBD of size (v,k,r)=(21,6,10) (http://designcomputing.net/gendex/ibd/b10.html).



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Clatworthy, W.H. (1973) Tables of two-associates-class partially balanced designs. Appl. Math. Ser. 63. National Bureau of Standards, Washington.
Hall, W.B. & Jarrett, R.G. (1981) Non-resolvable incomplete block designs with few replications. Biometrika 68, 617-627.
Jarrett, R.G. (1989) A review of bounds for the efficiency factor of block designs. Austral. J. Statist. 31, 118-129.
John, J.A. & Williams E.R. (1987) Cyclic designs and computer-generated designs. New York: Chapman & Hall.
John, P.W.M. (1980) Incomplete block designs. New York: Marcel Decker, Inc.
Nguyen, N-K. (1993) An algorithm for constructing optimal resolvable block designs. Commun. Statist. B 22, 911-923.
Nguyen, N-K. (1994) Construction of optimal incomplete block designs by computer. Technometrics 36, 300-307.
Nguyen, N-K. and Williams, E.R. (1993) An algorithm for constructing optimal resolvable row-column designs. Austral. J. Statist. 35, 363-370.
Nguyen, N-K. (1997) Construction of optimal row-column designs by computer. Computing Science & Statistics 28, 471-475.
Nguyen, N-K. & Blagoeva K.L. (2010) Incomplete block designs, in Encyclopedia of Statistical Science, Edited by L. Miodrag. Springer, 653-655.
Patterson, H.D. & Williams, E.R. (1976) A class of resolvable incomplete block designs. Biometrika 63, 83-92.
Raghavarao, D. & Padgett L.V. (2005). Block Designs: Analysis, Combinatorics and Applications. World Scientific.
Williams & Patterson (1977) Upper bound for efficiency factors in block designs. Austral. J. Statist. 19, 194-201.

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