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On the robustness of the generalized fused lasso to prior specifications

Résumé : Using networks as prior knowledge to guide model selection is a way to reach structured sparsity. In particular, the fused lasso that was originally designed to penalize differences of coefficients corresponding to successive features has been generalized to handle features whose effects are structured according to a given network. As any prior information, the network provided in the penalty may contain misleading edges that connect coefficients whose difference is not zero, and the extent to which the performance of the method depend on the suitability of the graph has never been clearly assessed. In this work we investigate the theoretical and empirical properties of the adaptive generalized fused lasso in the context of generalized linear models. In the fixed p setting, we show that, asymptotically, adding misleading edges in the graph does not prevent the adaptive generalized fused lasso from enjoying asymptotic oracle properties, while forgetting suitable edges can be more problematic. These theoretical results are complemented by an extensive simulation study that assesses the robustness of the adaptive generalized fused lasso against misspecification of the network as well as its applicability when theoretical coefficients are not exactly equal. Our contribution is also to evaluate the applicability of the generalized fused lasso for the joint modeling of multiple sparse regression functions. Illustrations are provided on two real data examples.
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Vivian Viallon, Sophie Lambert-Lacroix, Holger Höfling, Franck Picard. On the robustness of the generalized fused lasso to prior specifications. Statistics and Computing, Springer Verlag (Germany), 2016, 26 (1), pp.285-301. ⟨10.1007/s11222-014-9497-6⟩. ⟨hal-01067903v2⟩

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