The Annals of Statistics

Gaussian and bootstrap approximations for high-dimensional U-statistics and their applications

Xiaohui Chen

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This paper studies the Gaussian and bootstrap approximations for the probabilities of a nondegenerate U-statistic belonging to the hyperrectangles in $\mathbb{R}^{d}$ when the dimension $d$ is large. A two-step Gaussian approximation procedure that does not impose structural assumptions on the data distribution is proposed. Subject to mild moment conditions on the kernel, we establish the explicit rate of convergence uniformly in the class of all hyperrectangles in $\mathbb{R}^{d}$ that decays polynomially in sample size for a high-dimensional scaling limit, where the dimension can be much larger than the sample size. We also provide computable approximation methods for the quantiles of the maxima of centered U-statistics. Specifically, we provide a unified perspective for the empirical bootstrap, the randomly reweighted bootstrap and the Gaussian multiplier bootstrap with the jackknife estimator of covariance matrix as randomly reweighted quadratic forms and we establish their validity. We show that all three methods are inferentially first-order equivalent for high-dimensional U-statistics in the sense that they achieve the same uniform rate of convergence over all $d$-dimensional hyperrectangles. In particular, they are asymptotically valid when the dimension $d$ can be as large as $O(e^{n^{c}})$ for some constant $c\in(0,1/7)$.

The bootstrap methods are applied to statistical applications for high-dimensional non-Gaussian data including: (i) principled and data-dependent tuning parameter selection for regularized estimation of the covariance matrix and its related functionals; (ii) simultaneous inference for the covariance and rank correlation matrices. In particular, for the thresholded covariance matrix estimator with the bootstrap selected tuning parameter, we show that for a class of sub-Gaussian data, error bounds of the bootstrapped thresholded covariance matrix estimator can be much tighter than those of the minimax estimator with a universal threshold. In addition, we also show that the Gaussian-like convergence rates can be achieved for heavy-tailed data, which are less conservative than those obtained by the Bonferroni technique that ignores the dependency in the underlying data distribution.

Article information

Ann. Statist., Volume 46, Number 2 (2018), 642-678.

Received: March 2016
Revised: February 2017
First available in Project Euclid: 3 April 2018

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Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 62E17: Approximations to distributions (nonasymptotic)
Secondary: 62F40: Bootstrap, jackknife and other resampling methods

U-statistics high-dimensional inference Gaussian approximation bootstrap


Chen, Xiaohui. Gaussian and bootstrap approximations for high-dimensional U-statistics and their applications. Ann. Statist. 46 (2018), no. 2, 642--678. doi:10.1214/17-AOS1563.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplement to “Gaussian and bootstrap approximations for high- dimensional U-statistics and their applications”. This supplemental file contains additional proofs, technical lemmas and simulation results.