We study the problem of estimating the coefficients of a diffusion (Xt,t≥0); the estimation is based on discrete data XnΔ,n=0,1,…,N. The sampling frequency Δ−1 is constant, and asymptotics are taken as the number N of observations tends to infinity. We prove that the problem of estimating both the diffusion coefficient (the volatility) and the drift in a nonparametric setting is ill-posed: the minimax rates of convergence for Sobolev constraints and squared-error loss coincide with that of a, respectively, first- and second-order linear inverse problem. To ensure ergodicity and limit technical difficulties we restrict ourselves to scalar diffusions living on a compact interval with reflecting boundary conditions.
Our approach is based on the spectral analysis of the associated Markov semigroup. A rate-optimal estimation of the coefficients is obtained via the nonparametric estimation of an eigenvalue–eigenfunction pair of the transition operator of the discrete time Markov chain (XnΔ,n=0,1,…,N) in a suitable Sobolev norm, together with an estimation of its invariant density.
"Nonparametric estimation of scalar diffusions based on low frequency data." Ann. Statist. 32 (5) 2223 - 2253, October 2004. https://doi.org/10.1214/009053604000000797