Stability Approach to Regularization Selection (StARS) for High Dimensional Graphical Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Han Liu, Kathryn Roeder, Larry Wasserman


A challenging problem in estimating high-dimensional graphical models is to choose the regularization parameter in a data-dependent way. The standard techniques include $K$-fold cross-validation ($K$-CV), Akaike information criterion (AIC), and Bayesian information criterion (BIC). Though these methods work well for low-dimensional problems, they are not suitable in high dimensional settings. In this paper, we present StARS: a new stability-based method for choosing the regularization parameter in high dimensional inference for undirected graphs. The method has a clear interpretation: we use the least amount of regularization that simultaneously makes a graph sparse and replicable under random sampling. This interpretation requires essentially no conditions. Under mild conditions, we show that StARS is partially sparsistent in terms of graph estimation: i.e. with high probability, all the true edges will be included in the selected model even when the graph size asymptotically increases with the sample size. Empirically, the performance of StARS is compared with the state-of-the-art model selection procedures, including $K$-CV, AIC, and BIC, on both synthetic data and a real microarray dataset. StARS outperforms all competing procedures.