A Well-Conditioned and Sparse Estimation of Covariance and Inverse Covariance Matrices Using a Joint Penalty

Ashwini Maurya.

Year: 2016, Volume: 17, Issue: 130, Pages: 1−28


We develop a method for estimating well-conditioned and sparse covariance and inverse covariance matrices from a sample of vectors drawn from a sub-Gaussian distribution in high dimensional setting. The proposed estimators are obtained by minimizing the quadratic loss function and joint penalty of $\ell_1$ norm and variance of its eigenvalues. In contrast to some of the existing methods of covariance and inverse covariance matrix estimation, where often the interest is to estimate a sparse matrix, the proposed method is flexible in estimating both a sparse and well-conditioned covariance matrix simultaneously. The proposed estimators are optimal in the sense that they achieve the mini-max rate of estimation in operator norm for the underlying class of covariance and inverse covariance matrices. We give a very fast algorithm for computation of these covariance and inverse covariance matrices which is easily scalable to large scale data analysis problems. The simulation study for varying sample sizes and variables shows that the proposed estimators performs better than several other estimators for various choices of structured covariance and inverse covariance matrices. We also use our proposed estimator for tumor tissues classification using gene expression data and compare its performance with some other classification methods.