Statistical challenges with high dimensionality: feature selection in knowledge discovery
Jianqing FanPrinceton University, United States
Runze LiThe Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA
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Technological innovations have revolutionized the process of scientiﬁc research and knowledge discovery. The availability of massive data and challenges from frontiers of research and development have reshaped statistical thinking, data analysis and theoretical studies. The challenges of high-dimensionality arise in diverse ﬁelds of sciences and the humanities, ranging from computational biology and health studies to ﬁnancial engineering and risk management. In all of these ﬁelds, variable selection and feature extraction are crucial for knowledge discovery. We ﬁrst give a comprehensive overview of statistical challenges with high dimensionality in these diverse disciplines. We then approach the problem of variable selection and feature extraction using a uniﬁed framework: penalized likelihood methods. Issues relevant to the choice of penalty functions are addressed. We demonstrate that for a host of statistical problems, as long as the dimensionality is not excessively large, we can estimate the model parameters as well as if the best model is known in advance. The persistence property in risk minimization is also addressed. The applicability of such a theory and method to diverse statistical problems is demonstrated. Other related problems with high-dimensionality are also discussed.