COVARIANCE REGULARIZATION BY THRESHOLDING

October, 2007
Report Number: 
744
Authors: 
Peter Bickel and E.Levina
Abstract: 

This paper considers regularizing a covariance matrix of p variables estimated from n observations, by hard thresholding. We show that the thresholded estimate is consistent in the operator norm as long as the true covariance matrix is sparse in a suitable sense, the variables are Gaussian or sub-Gaussian, and (log p)/n → 0, and obtain explicit rates. The results are uniform over families of covariance matrices which satisfy a fairly natural notion of sparsity. We discuss an intuitive resampling scheme for threshold selection and prove a general cross-validation result that justifies this approach. We also compare thresholding to other covariance estimators in simulations and on an example from climate dat

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