Karol Kovařík, Pavel M. Nadolsky, Davison E. Soper

Parton distribution functions (PDFs) describe the structure of hadrons as composed of quarks and gluons. They are needed to make predictions for short-distance processes in high-energy collisions and are determined by fitting to cross-section data. Definitions of the PDFs and their relations to high-energy cross sections are reviewed. The focus is on the PDFs in protons, but PDFs in nuclei are also discussed. The standard statistical treatment needed to fit the PDFs to data using the Hessian method is reviewed in some detail. Tests are discussed that critically examine whether the needed assumptions are indeed valid. Also presented are some ideas of what one can do in case tests indicate that the assumptions fail.