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Free-knot polynomial splines with confidence intervals

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We construct approximate confidence intervals for a nonparametric regression function, using polynomial splines with free-knot locations. The number of knots is determined by generalized cross-validation. The estimates of knot locations and coefficients are obtained through a non-linear least squares solution that corresponds to the maximum likelihood estimate. Confidence intervals are then constructed based on the asymptotic distribution of the maximum likelihood estimator. Average coverage probabilities and the accuracy of the estimate are examined via simulation. This includes comparisons between our method and some existing methods such as smoothing spline and variable knots selection as well as a Bayesian version of the variable knots method. Simulation results indicate that our method works well for smooth underlying functions and also reasonably well for discontinuous functions. It also performs well for fairly small sample sizes.
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Keywords: B-splines; Confidence intervals; Free knots; Nonparametric regression; Piecewise polynomials

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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