Highly Robust and Efficient Estimators of Multivariate Location and Covariance with Applications to Array Processing and Financial Portfolio Optimization

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Virginia Tech


Throughout stochastic data processing fields, mean and covariance matrices are commonly employed for purposes such as standardizing multivariate data through decorrelation. For practical applications, these matrices are usually estimated, and often, the data used for these estimates are non-Gaussian or may be corrupted by outliers or impulsive noise. To address this, robust estimators should be employed.

However, in signal processing, where complex-valued data are common, the robust estimation techniques currently employed, such as M-estimators, provide limited robustness in the multivariate case. For this reason, this dissertation extends, to the complex-valued domain, the high-breakdown-point class of multivariate estimators called S-estimators. This dissertation defines S-estimators in the complex-valued context, and it defines their properties for complex-valued data.

One major shortcoming of the leading high-breakdown-point multivariate estimators, such as the Rocke S-estimator and the smoothed hard rejection MM-estimator, is that they lack statistical efficiency at non-Gaussian distributions, which are common with real-world applications. This dissertation proposes a new tunable S-estimator, termed the Sq-estimator, for the general class of elliptically symmetric distributions—a class containing many common families such as the multivariate Gaussian, K-, W-, t-, Cauchy, Laplace, hyperbolic, variance gamma, and normal inverse Gaussian distributions.

This dissertation demonstrates the diverse applicability and performance benefits of the Sq-estimator through theoretical analysis, empirical simulation, and the processing of real-world data. Through analytical and empirical means, the Sq-estimator is shown to generally provide higher maximum efficiency than the leading maximum-breakdown estimators, and it is also shown to generally be more stable with respect to initial conditions. To illustrate the theoretical benefits of the Sq for complex-valued applications, the efficiencies and influence functions of adaptive minimum variance distortionless response (MVDR) beamformers based on S- and M-estimators are compared. To illustrate the finite-sample performance benefits of the Sq-estimator, empirical simulation results of multiple signal classification (MUSIC) direction-of-arrival estimation are explored. Additionally, the optimal investment of real-world stock data is used to show the practical performance benefits of the Sq-estimator with respect to robustness to extreme events, estimation efficiency, and prediction performance.



Sq-estimator, Complex-valued S-estimator, Robust estimation of multivariate location and scatter, Complex elliptically symmetric distribution, Covariance and shape matrix estimation, sensor array processing