The weighted nearest neighbors (WNN) estimator has been popularly used as a flexible and easy-to-implement nonparametric tool for mean regression estimation. The bagging technique is an elegant way to form WNN estimators with weights automatically generated to the nearest neighbors (Steele 2009; Biau, Cérou, and Guyader 2010); we name the resulting estimator as the distributional nearest neighbors (DNN) for easy reference. Yet, there is a lack of distributional results for such estimator, limiting its application to statistical inference. Moreover, when the mean regression function has higher-order smoothness, DNN does not achieve the optimal nonparametric convergence rate, mainly because of the bias issue. In this work, we provide an in-depth technical analysis of the DNN, based on which we suggest a bias reduction approach for the DNN estimator by linearly combining two DNN estimators with different subsampling scales, resulting in the novel two-scale DNN (TDNN) estimator. The two-scale DNN estimator has an equivalent representation of WNN with weights admitting explicit forms and some being negative. We prove that, thanks to the use of negative weights, the two-scale DNN estimator enjoys the optimal nonparametric rate of convergence in estimating the regression function under the fourth-order smoothness condition. We further go beyond estimation and establish that the DNN and two-scale DNN are both asymptotically normal as the subsampling scales and sample size diverge to infinity. For the practical implementation, we also provide variance estimators and a distribution estimator using the jackknife and bootstrap techniques for the two-scale DNN. These estimators can be exploited for constructing valid confidence intervals for nonparametric inference of the regression function. The theoretical results and appealing finite-sample performance of the suggested two-scale DNN method are illustrated with several simulation examples and a real data application.
Demirkaya, Emre, Yingying Fan, Lan Gao, Jinchi Lv, Patrick Vossler, and Jingbo Wang. “Optimal Nonparametric Inference with Two-Scale Distributional Nearest Neighbors.” Journal of the American Statistical Association (2022): 1-11.