The spline smoothing approach to nonparametric regression and curve estimation is considered. It is shown that, in a certain sense, spline smoothing corresponds approximately to smoothing by a kernel method with bandwidth depending on the local density of design points. Some exact calculations demonstrate that the approximation is extremely close in practice. Consideration of kernel smoothing methods demonstrates that the way in which the effective local bandwidth behaves in spline smoothing has desirable properties. Finally, the main result of the paper is applied to the related topic of penalized maximum likelihood probability density estimates; a heuristic discussion shows that these estimates should adapt well in the tails of the distribution.
"Spline Smoothing: The Equivalent Variable Kernel Method." Ann. Statist. 12 (3) 898 - 916, September, 1984. https://doi.org/10.1214/aos/1176346710