A method and apparatus using a spectral analysis technique are disclosed. In one form of the invention, probabilities are selected to characterize the presence (and in another form, also a quantification of a characteristic) of peaks in an indexed data set for samples that match a reference species, and other probabilities are selected for samples that do not match the reference species. An indexed data set is acquired for a sample, and a determination is made according to techniques exemplified herein as to whether the sample matches or does not match the reference species. When quantification of peak characteristics is undertaken, the model is appropriately expanded, and the analysis accounts for the characteristic model and data. Further techniques are provided to apply the methods and apparatuses to process control, cluster analysis, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, and other procedures involving multiple comparisons of indexed data.