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Abstract:In the context of linear regression, we construct a data-driven convex loss function with respect to which empirical risk minimisation yields optimal asymptotic variance in the downstream estimation of the regression coefficients. Our semiparametric approach targets the best decreasing approximation of the derivative of the log-density of the noise distribution. At the population level, this fitting process is a nonparametric extension of score matching, corresponding to a log-concave projection of the noise distribution with respect to the Fisher divergence. The procedure is computationally efficient, and we prove that our procedure attains the minimal asymptotic covariance among all convex $M$-estimators. As an example of a non-log-concave setting, for Cauchy errors, the optimal convex loss function is Huber-like, and our procedure yields an asymptotic efficiency greater than 0.87 relative to the oracle maximum likelihood estimator of the regression coefficients that uses knowledge of this error distribution; in this sense, we obtain robustness without sacrificing much efficiency. Numerical experiments confirm the practical merits of our proposal.

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Abstract:Over the last decade or so, Approximate Message Passing (AMP) algorithms have become extremely popular in various structured high-dimensional statistical problems. The fact that the origins of these techniques can be traced back to notions of belief propagation in the statistical physics literature lends a certain mystique to the area for many statisticians. Our goal in this work is to present the main ideas of AMP from a statistical perspective, to illustrate the power and flexibility of the AMP framework. Along the way, we strengthen and unify many of the results in the existing literature.

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