msedist: Maximum spacing estimation of univariate distributions

msedistR Documentation

Maximum spacing estimation of univariate distributions


Fit of univariate distribution by maximizing (log) spacings for non censored data.


msedist(data, distr, phidiv="KL", power.phidiv=NULL, start = NULL, fix.arg = NULL, 
  optim.method = "default", lower = -Inf, upper = Inf, custom.optim = NULL, 
  weights=NULL, silent = TRUE, gradient = NULL, checkstartfix=FALSE, ...)



A numeric vector for non censored data.


A character string "name" naming a distribution for which the corresponding quantile function qname and the corresponding density distribution dname must be classically defined.


A character string coding for the name of the phi-divergence used : "KL" for Kullback-Leibler information (corresponds to classic maximum spacing estimation), "J" for Jeffreys' divergence, "R" for Renyi's divergence, "H" for Hellinger distance, "V" for Vajda's measure of information, see details.


If relevant, a numeric for the power used in some phi-divergence : should be NULL when phidiv="KL" or phidiv="J" , should be positive and different from 1 when phidiv="R", should be greater or equal to 1 when phidiv="H" or phidiv="V", see details.


A named list giving the initial values of parameters of the named distribution or a function of data computing initial values and returning a named list. This argument may be omitted (default) for some distributions for which reasonable starting values are computed (see the 'details' section of mledist).


An optional named list giving the values of fixed parameters of the named distribution or a function of data computing (fixed) parameter values and returning a named list. Parameters with fixed value are thus NOT estimated.


"default" or optimization method to pass to optim.


Left bounds on the parameters for the "L-BFGS-B" method (see optim).


Right bounds on the parameters for the "L-BFGS-B" method (see optim).


a function carrying the optimization.


an optional vector of weights to be used in the fitting process. Should be NULL or a numeric vector with strictly positive integers (typically the number of occurences of each observation). If non-NULL, weighted MSE is used, otherwise ordinary MSE.


A logical to remove or show warnings when bootstraping.


A function to return the gradient of the gof distance for the "BFGS", "CG" and "L-BFGS-B" methods. If it is NULL, a finite-difference approximation will be used.


A logical to test starting and fixed values. Do not change it.


further arguments passed to the optim, constrOptim or custom.optim function.


The msedist function numerically maximizes a phi-divergence function of spacings, where spacings are the differences of the cumulative distribution function evaluated at the sorted dataset. The classical maximum spacing estimation (MSE) was introduced by Cheng and Amin (1986) and Ranneby (1984) independently where the phi-diverence is the logarithm, see Anatolyev and Kosenok (2005) for a link between MSE and maximum likelihood estimation.

MSE was generalized by Ranneby and Ekstrom (1997) by allowing different phi-divergence function. Generalized MSE maximizes

S_n(θ)= sum(i=1,..,n+1; φ(F(x_(i); θ)-F(x_(i-1); θ))) / (n+1),

where F(;θ) is the parametric distribution function to be fitted, φ is the phi-divergence function, x_(1)<…<x_(n) is the sorted sample, x_(0)=-∞ and x_(n+1)=+∞. The possible phi-divergence function is

  • Kullback-Leibler information (when phidiv="KL" and corresponds to classical MSE)


  • Jeffreys' divergence (when phidiv="J")


  • Renyi's divergence (when phidiv="R" and power.phidiv=alpha)

    φ(x)=x^α*sign(1-α) with 0<α<1 or 1 <α

  • Hellinger distance (when phidiv="H" and power.phidiv=p)

    φ(x)=-|1-x^(1/p)|^p with p≥ 1

  • Vajda's measure of information (when phidiv="V" and power.phidiv=beta)

    φ(x)=-|1-x|^β with β≥ 1

The optimization process is the same as mledist, see the 'details' section of that function.

This function is not intended to be called directly but is internally called in fitdist and bootdist.

This function is intended to be used only with non-censored data.

NB: if your data values are particularly small or large, a scaling may be needed before the optimization process, see mledist's examples.


msedist returns a list with following components,


the parameter estimates.


an integer code for the convergence of optim defined as below or defined by the user in the user-supplied optimization function. 0 indicates successful convergence. 1 indicates that the iteration limit of optim has been reached. 10 indicates degeneracy of the Nealder-Mead simplex. 100 indicates that optim encountered an internal error.


the minimal value reached for the criterion to minimize.


a symmetric matrix computed by optim as an estimate of the Hessian at the solution found or computed in the user-supplied optimization function.


the name of the optimization function used for maximum likelihood.


when optim is used, the name of the algorithm used, the field method of the custom.optim function otherwise.


the named list giving the values of parameters of the named distribution that must kept fixed rather than estimated by maximum likelihood or NULL if there are no such parameters.

the function used to set the value of fix.arg or NULL.


the vector of weigths used in the estimation process or NULL.


A two-element integer vector giving the number of calls to the log-likelihood function and its gradient respectively. This excludes those calls needed to compute the Hessian, if requested, and any calls to log-likelihood function to compute a finite-difference approximation to the gradient. counts is returned by optim or the user-supplied function or set to NULL.


A character string giving any additional information returned by the optimizer, or NULL. To understand exactly the message, see the source code.


the log-likelihood value.


The character string coding for the name of the phi-divergence used either "KL", "J", "R", "H" or "V".


Either NULL or a numeric for the power used in the phi-divergence.


Marie-Laure Delignette-Muller and Christophe Dutang.


Anatolyev, S., and Kosenok, G. (2005). An alternative to maximum likelihood based on spacings. Econometric Theory, 21(2), 472-476.

Cheng, R.C.H. and N.A.K. Amin (1983) Estimating parameters in continuous univariate distributions with a shifted origin. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B 45, 394-403.

Ranneby, B. (1984) The maximum spacing method: An estimation method related to the maximum likelihood method. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics 11, 93-112.

Ranneby, B. and Ekstroem, M. (1997). Maximum spacing estimates based on different metrics. Umea universitet.

See Also

mmedist, mledist, qmedist, mgedist, fitdist for other estimation methods.


# (1) Fit of a Weibull distribution to serving size data by maximum 
# spacing estimation

serving <- groundbeef$serving
msedist(serving, "weibull")

# (2) Fit of an exponential distribution 

x1 <- rexp(1e3)
#the convergence is quick
msedist(x1, "exp", control=list(trace=0, REPORT=1))

fitdistrplus documentation built on March 18, 2022, 7:22 p.m.