Abstract:
This paper gives a brief overview on the nonparametric techniques that are useful for financial econometric problems. The problems include estimation and inferences of instantaneous returns and volatility functions of time-homogeneous and time-dependent diffusion processes, and estimation of transition densities and state price densities. We first briefly describe the problems and then outline main techniques and main results. Some useful probabilistic aspects of diffusion processes are also briefly summarized to facilitate our presentation and applications.

Abstract:
Classification using high-dimensional features arises frequently in many contemporary statistical studies such as tumor classification using microarray or other high-throughput data. The impact of dimensionality on classifications is poorly understood. In a seminal paper, Bickel and Levina [Bernoulli 10 (2004) 989--1010] show that the Fisher discriminant performs poorly due to diverging spectra and they propose to use the independence rule to overcome the problem. We first demonstrate that even for the independence classification rule, classification using all the features can be as poor as the random guessing due to noise accumulation in estimating population centroids in high-dimensional feature space. In fact, we demonstrate further that almost all linear discriminants can perform as poorly as the random guessing. Thus, it is important to select a subset of important features for high-dimensional classification, resulting in Features Annealed Independence Rules (FAIR). The conditions under which all the important features can be selected by the two-sample $t$-statistic are established. The choice of the optimal number of features, or equivalently, the threshold value of the test statistics are proposed based on an upper bound of the classification error. Simulation studies and real data analysis support our theoretical results and demonstrate convincingly the advantage of our new classification procedure.

Abstract:
A class of variable selection procedures for parametric models via nonconcave penalized likelihood was proposed by Fan and Li to simultaneously estimate parameters and select important variables. They demonstrated that this class of procedures has an oracle property when the number of parameters is finite. However, in most model selection problems the number of parameters should be large and grow with the sample size. In this paper some asymptotic properties of the nonconcave penalized likelihood are established for situations in which the number of parameters tends to \infty as the sample size increases. Under regularity conditions we have established an oracle property and the asymptotic normality of the penalized likelihood estimators. Furthermore, the consistency of the sandwich formula of the covariance matrix is demonstrated. Nonconcave penalized likelihood ratio statistics are discussed, and their asymptotic distributions under the null hypothesis are obtained by imposing some mild conditions on the penalty functions.

Abstract:
Technological innovations have revolutionized the process of scientific research and knowledge discovery. The availability of massive data and challenges from frontiers of research and development have reshaped statistical thinking, data analysis and theoretical studies. The challenges of high-dimensionality arise in diverse fields of sciences and the humanities, ranging from computational biology and health studies to financial engineering and risk management. In all of these fields, variable selection and feature extraction are crucial for knowledge discovery. We first give a comprehensive overview of statistical challenges with high dimensionality in these diverse disciplines. We then approach the problem of variable selection and feature extraction using a unified framework: penalized likelihood methods. Issues relevant to the choice of penalty functions are addressed. We demonstrate that for a host of statistical problems, as long as the dimensionality is not excessively large, we can estimate the model parameters as well as if the best model is known in advance. The persistence property in risk minimization is also addressed. The applicability of such a theory and method to diverse statistical problems is demonstrated. Other related problems with high-dimensionality are also discussed.

Abstract:
This paper studies the sparsistency and rates of convergence for estimating sparse covariance and precision matrices based on penalized likelihood with nonconvex penalty functions. Here, sparsistency refers to the property that all parameters that are zero are actually estimated as zero with probability tending to one. Depending on the case of applications, sparsity priori may occur on the covariance matrix, its inverse or its Cholesky decomposition. We study these three sparsity exploration problems under a unified framework with a general penalty function. We show that the rates of convergence for these problems under the Frobenius norm are of order $(s_n\log p_n/n)^{1/2}$, where $s_n$ is the number of nonzero elements, $p_n$ is the size of the covariance matrix and $n$ is the sample size. This explicitly spells out the contribution of high-dimensionality is merely of a logarithmic factor. The conditions on the rate with which the tuning parameter $\lambda_n$ goes to 0 have been made explicit and compared under different penalties. As a result, for the $L_1$-penalty, to guarantee the sparsistency and optimal rate of convergence, the number of nonzero elements should be small: $s_n'=O(p_n)$ at most, among $O(p_n^2)$ parameters, for estimating sparse covariance or correlation matrix, sparse precision or inverse correlation matrix or sparse Cholesky factor, where $s_n'$ is the number of the nonzero elements on the off-diagonal entries. On the other hand, using the SCAD or hard-thresholding penalty functions, there is no such a restriction.

Abstract:
Ultrahigh-dimensional variable selection plays an increasingly important role in contemporary scientific discoveries and statistical research. Among others, Fan and Lv [J. R. Stat. Soc. Ser. B Stat. Methodol. 70 (2008) 849-911] propose an independent screening framework by ranking the marginal correlations. They showed that the correlation ranking procedure possesses a sure independence screening property within the context of the linear model with Gaussian covariates and responses. In this paper, we propose a more general version of the independent learning with ranking the maximum marginal likelihood estimates or the maximum marginal likelihood itself in generalized linear models. We show that the proposed methods, with Fan and Lv [J. R. Stat. Soc. Ser. B Stat. Methodol. 70 (2008) 849-911] as a very special case, also possess the sure screening property with vanishing false selection rate. The conditions under which the independence learning possesses a sure screening is surprisingly simple. This justifies the applicability of such a simple method in a wide spectrum. We quantify explicitly the extent to which the dimensionality can be reduced by independence screening, which depends on the interactions of the covariance matrix of covariates and true parameters. Simulation studies are used to illustrate the utility of the proposed approaches. In addition, we establish an exponential inequality for the quasi-maximum likelihood estimator which is useful for high-dimensional statistical learning.

Abstract:
Prediction error is critical to assessing the performance of statistical methods and selecting statistical models. We propose the cross-validation and approximated cross-validation methods for estimating prediction error under a broad q-class of Bregman divergence for error measures which embeds nearly all of the commonly used loss functions in regression, classification procedures and machine learning literature. The approximated cross-validation formulas are analytically derived, which facilitate fast estimation of prediction error under the Bregman divergence. We then study a data-driven optimal bandwidth selector for the local-likelihood estimation that minimizes the overall prediction error or equivalently the covariance penalty. It is shown that the covariance penalty and cross-validation methods converge to the same mean-prediction-error-criterion. We also propose a lower-bound scheme for computing the local logistic regression estimates and demonstrate that it is as simple and stable as the local least-squares regression estimation. The algorithm monotonically enhances the target local-likelihood and converges. The idea and methods are extended to the generalized varying-coefficient models and semiparametric models.

Abstract:
Generalized likelihood ratio statistics have been proposed in Fan, Zhang and Zhang [Ann. Statist. 29 (2001) 153-193] as a generally applicable method for testing nonparametric hypotheses about nonparametric functions. The likelihood ratio statistics are constructed based on the assumption that the distributions of stochastic errors are in a certain parametric family. We extend their work to the case where the error distribution is completely unspecified via newly proposed sieve empirical likelihood ratio (SELR) tests. The approach is also applied to test conditional estimating equations on the distributions of stochastic errors. It is shown that the proposed SELR statistics follow asymptotically rescaled \chi^2-distributions, with the scale constants and the degrees of freedom being independent of the nuisance parameters. This demonstrates that the Wilks phenomenon observed in Fan, Zhang and Zhang [Ann. Statist. 29 (2001) 153-193] continues to hold under more relaxed models and a larger class of techniques. The asymptotic power of the proposed test is also derived, which achieves the optimal rate for nonparametric hypothesis testing. The proposed approach has two advantages over the generalized likelihood ratio method: it requires one only to specify some conditional estimating equations rather than the entire distribution of the stochastic error, and the procedure adapts automatically to the unknown error distribution including heteroscedasticity. A simulation study is conducted to evaluate our proposed procedure empirically.

Abstract:
Variable selection plays an important role in high dimensional statistical modeling which nowadays appears in many areas and is key to various scientific discoveries. For problems of large scale or dimensionality $p$, estimation accuracy and computational cost are two top concerns. In a recent paper, Candes and Tao (2007) propose the Dantzig selector using $L_1$ regularization and show that it achieves the ideal risk up to a logarithmic factor $\log p$. Their innovative procedure and remarkable result are challenged when the dimensionality is ultra high as the factor $\log p$ can be large and their uniform uncertainty principle can fail. Motivated by these concerns, we introduce the concept of sure screening and propose a sure screening method based on a correlation learning, called the Sure Independence Screening (SIS), to reduce dimensionality from high to a moderate scale that is below sample size. In a fairly general asymptotic framework, the correlation learning is shown to have the sure screening property for even exponentially growing dimensionality. As a methodological extension, an iterative SIS (ISIS) is also proposed to enhance its finite sample performance. With dimension reduced accurately from high to below sample size, variable selection can be improved on both speed and accuracy, and can then be accomplished by a well-developed method such as the SCAD, Dantzig selector, Lasso, or adaptive Lasso. The connections of these penalized least-squares methods are also elucidated.

Abstract:
Most papers on high-dimensional statistics are based on the assumption that none of the regressors are correlated with the regression error, namely, they are exogenous. Yet, endogeneity can arise incidentally from a large pool of regressors in a high-dimensional regression. This causes the inconsistency of the penalized least-squares method and possible false scientific discoveries. A necessary condition for model selection consistency of a general class of penalized regression methods is given, which allows us to prove formally the inconsistency claim. To cope with the incidental endogeneity, we construct a novel penalized focused generalized method of moments (FGMM) criterion function. The FGMM effectively achieves the dimension reduction and applies the instrumental variable methods. We show that it possesses the oracle property even in the presence of endogenous predictors, and that the solution is also near global minimum under the over-identification assumption. Finally, we also show how the semi-parametric efficiency of estimation can be achieved via a two-step approach.