.. _example_covariance_plot_covariance_estimation.py:
=======================================================================
Shrinkage covariance estimation: LedoitWolf vs OAS and max-likelihood
=======================================================================
When working with covariance estimation, the usual approach is to use
a maximum likelihood estimator, such as the
:class:`sklearn.covariance.EmpiricalCovariance`. It is unbiased, i.e. it
converges to the true (population) covariance when given many
observations. However, it can also be beneficial to regularize it, in
order to reduce its variance; this, in turn, introduces some bias. This
example illustrates the simple regularization used in
:ref:`shrunk_covariance` estimators. In particular, it focuses on how to
set the amount of regularization, i.e. how to choose the bias-variance
trade-off.
Here we compare 3 approaches:
* Setting the parameter by cross-validating the likelihood on three folds
according to a grid of potential shrinkage parameters.
* A close formula proposed by Ledoit and Wolf to compute
the asymptotically optimal regularization parameter (minimizing a MSE
criterion), yielding the :class:`sklearn.covariance.LedoitWolf`
covariance estimate.
* An improvement of the Ledoit-Wolf shrinkage, the
:class:`sklearn.covariance.OAS`, proposed by Chen et al. Its
convergence is significantly better under the assumption that the data
are Gaussian, in particular for small samples.
To quantify estimation error, we plot the likelihood of unseen data for
different values of the shrinkage parameter. We also show the choices by
cross-validation, or with the LedoitWolf and OAS estimates.
Note that the maximum likelihood estimate corresponds to no shrinkage,
and thus performs poorly. The Ledoit-Wolf estimate performs really well,
as it is close to the optimal and is computational not costly. In this
example, the OAS estimate is a bit further away. Interestingly, both
approaches outperform cross-validation, which is significantly most
computationally costly.
.. image:: images/plot_covariance_estimation_001.png
:align: center
**Python source code:** :download:`plot_covariance_estimation.py `
.. literalinclude:: plot_covariance_estimation.py
:lines: 44-
**Total running time of the example:** 0.25 seconds
( 0 minutes 0.25 seconds)