Open Access
May 2013 Least squares after model selection in high-dimensional sparse models
Alexandre Belloni, Victor Chernozhukov
Bernoulli 19(2): 521-547 (May 2013). DOI: 10.3150/11-BEJ410


In this article we study post-model selection estimators that apply ordinary least squares (OLS) to the model selected by first-step penalized estimators, typically Lasso. It is well known that Lasso can estimate the nonparametric regression function at nearly the oracle rate, and is thus hard to improve upon. We show that the OLS post-Lasso estimator performs at least as well as Lasso in terms of the rate of convergence, and has the advantage of a smaller bias. Remarkably, this performance occurs even if the Lasso-based model selection “fails” in the sense of missing some components of the “true” regression model. By the “true” model, we mean the best $s$-dimensional approximation to the nonparametric regression function chosen by the oracle. Furthermore, OLS post-Lasso estimator can perform strictly better than Lasso, in the sense of a strictly faster rate of convergence, if the Lasso-based model selection correctly includes all components of the “true” model as a subset and also achieves sufficient sparsity. In the extreme case, when Lasso perfectly selects the “true” model, the OLS post-Lasso estimator becomes the oracle estimator. An important ingredient in our analysis is a new sparsity bound on the dimension of the model selected by Lasso, which guarantees that this dimension is at most of the same order as the dimension of the “true” model. Our rate results are nonasymptotic and hold in both parametric and nonparametric models. Moreover, our analysis is not limited to the Lasso estimator acting as a selector in the first step, but also applies to any other estimator, for example, various forms of thresholded Lasso, with good rates and good sparsity properties. Our analysis covers both traditional thresholding and a new practical, data-driven thresholding scheme that induces additional sparsity subject to maintaining a certain goodness of fit. The latter scheme has theoretical guarantees similar to those of Lasso or OLS post-Lasso, but it dominates those procedures as well as traditional thresholding in a wide variety of experiments.


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Alexandre Belloni. Victor Chernozhukov. "Least squares after model selection in high-dimensional sparse models." Bernoulli 19 (2) 521 - 547, May 2013.


Published: May 2013
First available in Project Euclid: 13 March 2013

zbMATH: 06168762
MathSciNet: MR3037163
Digital Object Identifier: 10.3150/11-BEJ410

Keywords: Lasso , OLS post-Lasso , post-model selection estimators

Rights: Copyright © 2013 Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability

Vol.19 • No. 2 • May 2013
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