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Optimal Bayesian Estimation in Random Covariate Design with a Rescaled Gaussian Process Prior

Debdeep Pati, Anirban Bhattacharya, Guang Cheng; 16(87):2837−2851, 2015.


In Bayesian nonparametric models, Gaussian processes provide a popular prior choice for regression function estimation. Existing literature on the theoretical investigation of the resulting posterior distribution almost exclusively assume a fixed design for covariates. The only random design result we are aware of (van der Vaart and van Zanten, 2011) assumes the assigned Gaussian process to be supported on the smoothness class specified by the true function with probability one. This is a fairly restrictive assumption as it essentially rules out the Gaussian process prior with a squared exponential kernel when modeling rougher functions. In this article, we show that an appropriate rescaling of the above Gaussian process leads to a rate-optimal posterior distribution even when the covariates are independently realized from a known density on a compact set. The proofs are based on deriving sharp concentration inequalities for frequentist kernel estimators; the results might be of independent interest.

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