A convex optimization formulation for multivariate regression

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2020)

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Yunzhang Zhu


Multivariate regression (or multi-task learning) concerns the task of predicting the value of multiple responses from a set of covariates. In this article, we propose a convex optimization formulation for high-dimensional multivariate linear regression under a general error covariance structure. The main difficulty with simultaneous estimation of the regression coefficients and the error covariance matrix lies in the fact that the negative log-likelihood function is not convex. To overcome this difficulty, a new parameterization is proposed, under which the negative log-likelihood function is proved to be convex. For faster computation, two other alternative loss functions are also considered, and proved to be convex under the proposed parameterization. This new parameterization is also useful for covariate-adjusted Gaussian graphical modeling in which the inverse of the error covariance matrix is of interest. A joint non-asymptotic analysis of the regression coefficients and the error covariance matrix is carried out under the new parameterization. In particular, we show that the proposed method recovers the oracle estimator under sharp scaling conditions, and rates of convergence in terms of vector $\ell_\infty$ norm are also established. Empirically, the proposed methods outperform existing high-dimensional multivariate linear regression methods that are based on either minimizing certain non-convex criteria or certain two-step procedures.