# Minimax statistical procedure

One of the versions of optimality in mathematical statistics, according to which a statistical procedure is pronounced optimal in the minimax sense if it minimizes the maximal risk. In terms of decision functions (cf. Decision function) the notion of a minimax statistical procedure is defined as follows. Let a random variable $ X $
take values in a sampling space $ ( \mathfrak X , \mathfrak B , {\mathsf P} _ \theta ) $,
$ \theta \in \Theta $,
and let $ \Delta = \{ \delta \} $
be the class of decision functions which are used to make a decision $ d $
from the decision space $ D $
on the basis of a realization of $ X $,
that is, $ \delta ( \cdot ) : \mathfrak X \rightarrow D $.
In this connection, the loss function $ L ( \theta , d) $,
defined on $ \Theta \times D $,
is assumed given. In such a case a statistical procedure $ \delta ^ {*} \in \Delta $
is called a minimax procedure in the problem of making a statistical decision relative to the loss function $ L ( \theta , d ) $
if for all $ \delta \in \Delta $,

$$ \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ {\mathsf E} _ \theta L ( \theta , \delta ^ {*} ( X) ) \leq \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ {\mathsf E} _ \theta L ( \theta , \delta ( X) ) , $$

where

$$ {\mathsf E} _ \theta L ( \theta , \delta ( X) ) = \ R ( \theta , \delta ) = \ \int\limits _ { \mathfrak X } L ( \theta , \delta ( X) ) \ d {\mathsf P} _ \theta ( x) $$

is the risk function associated to the statistical procedure (decision rule) $ \delta $; the decision $ d ^ {*} = \delta ^ {*} ( x) $ corresponding to an observation $ x $ and the minimax procedure $ \delta ^ {*} $ is called the minimax decision. Since the quantity

$$ \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ {\mathsf E} _ \theta L ( \theta , \delta ( X) ) $$

shows the expected loss under the procedure $ \delta \in \Delta $, $ \delta ^ {*} $ being maximal means that if $ \delta ^ {*} $ is used to choose a decision $ d $ from $ D $, then the largest expected risk,

$$ \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ R ( \theta , \delta ^ {*} ) , $$

will be as small as possible.

Figure: m063970a

The minimax principle for a statistical procedure does not always lead to a reasonable conclusion (see Fig. a); in this case one must be guided by $ \delta _ {1} $ and not by $ \delta _ {2} $, although

$$ \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ R ( \theta , \delta _ {1} ) > \ \sup _ {\theta \in \Theta } \ R ( \theta , \delta _ {2} ) . $$

The notion of a minimax statistical procedure is useful in problems of statistical decision making in the absence of a priori information regarding $ \theta $.

#### References

[1] | E.L. Lehmann, "Testing statistical hypotheses" , Wiley (1986) |

[2] | S. Zacks, "The theory of statistical inference" , Wiley (1971) |

**How to Cite This Entry:**

Minimax statistical procedure.

*Encyclopedia of Mathematics.*URL: http://encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Minimax_statistical_procedure&oldid=47846