I'm attempting to derive the maximum likelihood estimates for the parameters of the bi-variate normal distribution model of linear regression and I am well and truly stuck. Just looking for some guidance as how to approach this question.

What I know:

$(x_i,y_i)$ are the outcomes of a bi-variate normal distribution $(X_i,Y_i) \space\forall i \in[1,n]$, s.t.

$X_i \sim N(\mu_X,\sigma^2_X)$,

$(Y_i|X_i =x_i) \sim N(\mu_Y -\mu_X \frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\rho +\frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\rho x_i,\sigma^2_Y(1-p^2)) $

And the MLEs are:

$\hat{\mu_X}=\bar X$

$\hat{\mu_Y} = \bar Y$

$\hat{\sigma^2_X} = \frac{1}{n}S_{XX}$

$\hat{\sigma^2_Y} = \frac{1}{n}S_{YY}$

$\hat\rho = R = \frac{S_{XY}}{\sqrt{S_{XX}S_{YY}}}$

What I attempted

So obviously I first have to develop a likelihood function to optimise. I attempted to use the normal distribution for Y|X, using the mean and variance as described by the distribution above and then take the partial derivatives with respect to $\mu_X,\mu_Y,\sigma_X,\sigma_Y$ and $\rho$ respectfully, setting them all to $0$ and solving for each parameter.

So, $L(\mu_X,\mu_Y,\sigma_X,\sigma_Y,\rho;x_i,y_i)=[\sigma_Y\sqrt{(1-\rho^2)2\pi}\space]^{-1}exp(\frac{[y_i-(\mu_Y -\frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\rho\mu_X+\frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\rho x_i)]^2}{-[2\sigma_Y^2(1-\rho^2)]})$

But all I really got out of that was that

$(y_i-\mu_Y) = \frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\rho (x_i-\mu_X)$,

from the derivatives of the first three parameters, but given how complex the last two were I didn't even go there as I'm sure I'm doing something wrong.

So if someone could give me a bit of a hand or at least point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated.


Ok, so I ended up solving most of my question with the Method of Moments, which doesn't necessarily give MLEs, but does so in this case.

So I rearranged the form of the random variables X and Y to the following:

$X = \mu_X + \sigma_XU, \space \space Y = \mu_Y + \sigma_Y\rho U + \sigma_Y\sqrt{1-\rho^2}V$

Where, $U,V\overset{IID}{\sim} N(0,1)$

I then equated the moments by: $\mathbb{E}(X^k)=\frac{1}{n}\sum_{i=1}^{n}X_i^k$, for both X and Y.

This gave me the estimators:

$\hat{\mu_X}=\bar X$

$\hat{\mu_Y}=\bar Y$



But I'm still not sure how to get the estimator for $\rho$.


You should sum it for all the $n$ observations that you got, i.e., $$ \sum(Y_i-\mu_Y) = \rho\frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}\sum(X_i-\mu_X), $$ thus $$ n\bar{Y}_n-n\mu_Y=\rho\frac{\sigma_Y}{\sigma_X}(n\bar{X}_n-n\mu_X), $$ now plug in the MLE estimators for all parameters except $\mu_X$, in particular $\hat{\mu}_Y=\bar{Y}_n$, thus you'll have $$ 0=\hat{\rho}\frac{S_Y}{S_X}(n\bar{X}_n - n\mu_X), $$ hence, $\hat{\mu}_X=\bar{X}_n$. You should use the same logic for the other parameters, i.e., plug in the MLE and see what cancels out.

  • $\begingroup$ Cheers, that makes sense. But isn't subbing in the MLEs into the equation relying on the results of the question to answer the question? As theoretically, the MLEs shouldn't be known and I'm attempting to derive them. $\endgroup$ – CptB3RRY Oct 9 '16 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ Partly, yes. And I'm afraid that you have no other choice. I.e., you have to plug-in the MLEs for other parameters in order to express the MLE of interest as a function of only known constants or sample-functions. In your case, you can derive the MLEs for $\mu_X$ and $\sigma^2_Y$ using the marginal distributions and then by utilizing the invariance property of the MLEs, to find the MLE of $\rho$ from the joint (or the conditional) distribution. $\endgroup$ – V. Vancak Oct 9 '16 at 23:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.