Minimal penalties and the slope heuristics: a survey

01/22/2019 ∙ by Sylvain Arlot, et al. ∙ 0

Birgé and Massart proposed in 2001 the slope heuristics as a way to choose optimally from data an unknown multiplicative constant in front of a penalty. It is built upon the notion of minimal penalty, and it has been generalized since to some 'minimal-penalty algorithms'. This paper reviews the theoretical results obtained for such algorithms, with a self-contained proof in the simplest framework, precise proof ideas for further generalizations, and a few new results. Explicit connections are made with residual-variance estimators-with an original contribution on this topic, showing that for this task the slope heuristics performs almost as well as a residual-based estimator with the best model choice-and some classical algorithms such as L-curve or elbow heuristics, Mallows' C p , and Akaike's FPE. Practical issues are also addressed, including two new practical definitions of minimal-penalty algorithms that are compared on synthetic data to previously-proposed definitions. Finally, several conjectures and open problems are suggested as future research directions.



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