Some random matrix problems in high-dimensional statistics

Job Candidate Talk
Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 3:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 269
Noureddine El Karoui – UC Berkeley
Ionel Popescu
It is now increasingly common in statistical practice to encounter datasets in which the number of observations, n, is of the same order of magnitude as the number of measurements, p, we have per observation. This simple remark has important consequences for theoretical (and applied) statistics. Namely, it suggests on the theoretical front that we should study the properties of statistical procedures in an asymptotic framework where p and n both go to infinity (and p/n has for instance a finite non-zero limit). This is drastically different from the classical theory where p is held fixed when n goes to infinity. Since a number of techniques in multivariate statistics rely fundamentally on sample covariance matrices and their eigenvalues and eigenvectors, the spectral properties of large dimensional covariance matrices play a key role in such "large n, large p" analyses. In this talk, I will present a few problems I have worked on, concerning different aspects of the interaction between random matrix theory and multivariate statistics. I will discuss some fluctuation properties of the largest eigenvalue of sample covariance matrices when the population covariance is (fairly) general, talk about estimation problems for large dimensional covariance matrices and, time permitting, address some applications in a classic problem of mathematical finance. The talk will be self-contained and no prior knowledge of statistics or random matrix theory will be assumed.