Stable estimation of a covariance matrix guided by nuclear norm penalties

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Authors Eric C. Chi, Kenneth Lange
Journal/Conference Name Computational Statistics & Data Analysis
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Estimation of a covariance matrix or its inverse plays a central role in many statistical methods. For these methods to work reliably, estimated matrices must not only be invertible but also well-conditioned. The current paper introduces a novel prior to ensure a well-conditioned maximum a posteriori (MAP) covariance estimate. The prior shrinks the sample covariance estimator towards a stable target and leads to a MAP estimator that is consistent and asymptotically efficient. Thus, the MAP estimator gracefully transitions towards the sample covariance matrix as the number of samples grows relative to the number of covariates. The utility of the MAP estimator is demonstrated in two standard applications - discriminant analysis and EM clustering - in this sampling regime.
Date of publication 2014
Code Programming Language R
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