Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Jian Huang

First Committee Member

Patrick Breheny

Second Committee Member

Kung-Sik Chan

Third Committee Member

Joseph B Lang

Fourth Committee Member

Luke Tierney


In fields such as statistics, economics and biology, heterogeneity is an important topic concerning validity of data inference and discovery of hidden patterns. This thesis focuses on penalized methods for regression analysis with the presence of heterogeneity in a potentially high-dimensional setting. Two possible strategies to deal with heterogeneity are: robust regression methods that provide heterogeneity-resistant coefficient estimation, and direct detection of heterogeneity while estimating coefficients accurately in the meantime.

We consider the first strategy for two robust regression methods, Huber loss regression and quantile regression with Lasso or Elastic-Net penalties, which have been studied theoretically but lack efficient algorithms. We propose a new algorithm Semismooth Newton Coordinate Descent to solve them. The algorithm is a novel combination of Semismooth Newton Algorithm and Coordinate Descent that applies to penalized optimization problems with both nonsmooth loss and nonsmooth penalty. We prove its convergence properties, and show its computational efficiency through numerical studies.

We also propose a nonconvex penalized regression method, Heterogeneity Discovery Regression (HDR) , as a realization of the second idea. We establish theoretical results that guarantees statistical precision for any local optimum of the objective function with high probability. We also compare the numerical performances of HDR with competitors including Huber loss regression, quantile regression and least squares through simulation studies and a real data example. In these experiments, HDR methods are able to detect heterogeneity accurately, and also largely outperform the competitors in terms of coefficient estimation and variable selection.


heterogeneity detection, high-dimensional, nonconvex regularization, optimization, robust regression, variable selection


ix, 98 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 96-98).


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