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Convex Regression Model

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Convex Regression Model

In this post, a data scientist walks us through a bit of complex math and the corresponding R code that we need to make our models.

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This morning during the lecture on nonlinear regression, I mentioned (very) briefly the case of convex regression. Since I forgot to mention the codes in R, I will publish them here. Assume that yi=m(xi)+εi where m:RdR is some convex function.

Then m is convex if and only if x1,x2∈Rdt∈[0,1],

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Hidreth (1954) proved that if

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then θ⋆=(m⋆(x1),⋯,m⋆(xn)) is unique.

Let y=θ+ε, then

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I.e. θ is the projection of \mathbf{y}y onto the (closed) convex cone \mathcal{K}K. The projection theorem gives existence and unicity.

For convenience, in the application, we will consider the real-valued case, m:RR, i.e. yi=m(xi)+εi. Assume that observations are ordered x1≤x2≤⋯≤xn. Here

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Hence, quadratic program with n−2 linear constraints.

m is a piecewise linear function (interpolation of consecutive pairs (xi,θi⋆)).

If m is differentiable, m is convex if

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More generally, if m is convex, then there exists ξxRn such that 

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ξx is a subgradient of m at x. And then

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Hence, θ is solution of 

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and ξ1,⋯,ξnRn. Now, to do it for real, use cobs package for constrained (b)splines regression,


To get a convex regression, use

x = cars$speed
y = cars$dist
rc = conreg(x,y,convex=TRUE)
lines(rc, col = 2)

Here we can get the values of the knots


Call:  conreg(x = x, y = y, convex = TRUE) 
Convex regression: From 19 separated x-values, using 5 inner knots,
     7,    8,    9,   20,   23.
RSS =  1356; R^2 = 0.8766;
 needed (5,0) iterations

and actually, if we use them in a linear-spline regression, we get the same output here

reg = lm(dist~bs(speed,degree=1,knots=c(4,7,8,9,,20,23,25)),data=cars)
u = seq(4,25,by=.1)
v = predict(reg,newdata=data.frame(speed=u))

Let us add vertical lines for the knots


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