Smooth Estimation of a Monotone Density


Published 2002 in Statistics, 37, 3, 189-203.


We investigate the interplay of smoothness and monotonicity assumptions when estimating a density from a sample of observations. The nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator of a decreasing density on the positive half line attains a rate of convergence at a fixed point if the density has a negative derivative. The same rate is obtained by a kernel estimator, but the limit distributions are different. If the density is both differentiable and known to be monotone, then a third estimator is obtained by isotonization of a kernel estimator. We show that this again attains the rate of convergence and compare the limit distributors of the three types of estimators. It is shown that both isotonization and smoothing lead to a more concentrated limit distribution and we study the dependence on the proportionality constant in the bandwidth. We also show that isotonization does not change the limit behavior of a kernel estimator with a larger bandwidth, in the case that the density is known to have more than one derivative.

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