Estimation of an unstructured covariance matrix is difficult because of the challenges posed by parameter space dimensionality and the positive‐definiteness constraint that estimates should satisfy. We consider a general nonparametric covariance estimation framework for longitudinal data using the Cholesky decomposition of a positive‐definite matrix. The covariance matrix of time‐ordered measurements is diagonalized by a lower triangular matrix with unconstrained entries that are statistically interpretable as parameters for a varying coefficient autoregressive model. Using this dual interpretation of the Cholesky decomposition and allowing for irregular sampling time points, we treat covariance estimation as bivariate smoothing and cast it in a regularization framework for desired forms of simplicity in covariance models. Viewing stationarity as a form of simplicity or parsimony in covariance, we model the varying coefficient function with components depending on time lag and its orthogonal direction separately and penalize the components that capture the nonstationarity in the fitted function. We demonstrate construction of a covariance estimator using the smoothing spline framework. Simulation studies establish the advantage of our approach over alternative estimators proposed in the longitudinal data setting. We analyze a longitudinal dataset to illustrate application of the methodology and compare our estimates to those resulting from alternative models.
This article is categorized under: Data: Types and Structure > Time Series, Stochastic Processes, and Functional Data Statistical and Graphical Methods of Data Analysis > Nonparametric Methods Algorithms and Computational Methods > Maximum Likelihood Methods
Data: Types and Structure > Time Series, Stochastic Processes, and Functional Data
Statistical and Graphical Methods of Data Analysis > Nonparametric Methods
Algorithms and Computational Methods > Maximum Likelihood Methods