I would like to know if some variables in design matrix are correlated then LASSO is convex or not. If you give me a proof for convexity of LASSO and ADAPTIVE lasso, I will be thankful. LASSO is defined by minimizing penalized likelihood function. Then in the context of regression with Gaussian errors we have $$ L_n=||Y-X'\beta||_2^2 +\lambda_n||B||_1 ,\quad \lambda_n \geq 0 $$ So my question is, if some columns of $X$ are correlated, then how can I prove that $L_n$ is convex(if it is convex). It is obvious that my goal is minimizing $L_n$ with respect to $\beta$. Thank you.


If $XX'$ is positive semi-definite, then $L_n$ is convex.

Expand $\left \|Y-X'\beta \right \|_2^2$, we get $F(\beta)=Y'Y-2Y'X'\beta+\beta'XX'\beta$. $F(\beta)$ is convex with respect to $\beta$ when $XX'$ is positive semi-definite. As you know $\| \beta \|_1$ is convex, therefore $L_n$ is the sum of two convex function, it's convex.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Could you please give me a proof? $\endgroup$ – TPArrow Apr 27 '14 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. So as I understand, positive-semi-define means $det(XX')\geq 0$ then it means even if there exists correlation between variables in $X$ (as a result $det(XX')=0$), LASSO stays convex. Is that true? $\endgroup$ – TPArrow Apr 27 '14 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ @HAMEDHASELI positive-semi-define means all its eigenvalues should be larger or equal to 0. $\endgroup$ – E.J. Apr 27 '14 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks you. So based based on your definition of positive-semi-defined matrix, LASSO is always convex either there exist correlation among variables or not. Could you please confirm this? $\endgroup$ – TPArrow Apr 27 '14 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ I found this in wikipedia : For any matrix A, the matrix AA is positive semidefinite, and rank(A) = rank(AA). The question arise in my mind is, if a function is convex, it means there exists a unique minimum. Then, why in high-dimensional cases (I mean when the number of variables is more than the number of observations) there are infinite possibilities for the solution of (LASSO)convex function? $\endgroup$ – TPArrow Apr 27 '14 at 19:40

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