Estimation of a Discrete Monotone Distribution

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We study and compare three estimators of a discrete monotone distribution: (a) the (raw) empirical estimator; (b) the “method of rearrangements” estimator; and (c) the maximum likelihood estimator. We show that the maximum likelihood estimator strictly dominates both the rearrangement and empirical estimators in cases when the distribution has intervals of constancy. For example, when the distribution is uniform on {0,...,y}, the asymptotic risk of the method of rearrangements estimator (in squared !2 norm) is y/(y + 1), while the asymptotic risk of the MLE is of order (log y)/(y + 1). For strictly decreasing distributions, the estimators are asymptotically equivalent.


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