Optimal Sparse Linear Prediction for Block-missing Multi-modality Data Without Imputation

Guan Yu, Quefeng Li, Dinggang Shen, Yufeng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In modern scientific research, data are often collected from multiple modalities. Since different modalities could provide complementary information, statistical prediction methods using multimodality data could deliver better prediction performance than using single modality data. However, one special challenge for using multimodality data is related to block-missing data. In practice, due to dropouts or the high cost of measures, the observations of a certain modality can be missing completely for some subjects. In this paper, we propose a new direct sparse regression procedure using covariance from multimodality data (DISCOM). Our proposed DISCOM method includes two steps to find the optimal linear prediction of a continuous response variable using block-missing multimodality predictors. In the first step, rather than deleting or imputing missing data, we make use of all available information to estimate the covariance matrix of the predictors and the cross-covariance vector between the predictors and the response variable. The proposed new estimate of the covariance matrix is a linear combination of the identity matrix, the estimates of the intra-modality covariance matrix and the cross-modality covariance matrix. Flexible estimates for both the sub-Gaussian and heavy-tailed cases are considered. In the second step, based on the estimated covariance matrix and the estimated cross-covariance vector, an extended Lasso-type estimator is used to deliver a sparse estimate of the coefficients in the optimal linear prediction. The number of samples that are effectively used by DISCOM is the minimum number of samples with available observations from two modalities, which can be much larger than the number of samples with complete observations from all modalities. The effectiveness of the proposed method is demonstrated by theoretical studies, simulated examples, and a real application from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The comparison between DISCOM and some existing methods also indicates the advantages of our proposed method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1406-1419
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number531
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the editor, the associate editor, and reviewers, whose helpful comments and suggestions led to a much improved presentation. This research was partially supported by NSF grants IIS1632951, DMS1821231 and NIH grants R01GM126550, P01CA142538.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Statistical Association.


  • Block-missing
  • Huber’s M-estimate
  • Lasso
  • Multi-modality
  • Prediction
  • Sparse regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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