We derive a central limit theorem for the maximum of a sum of high dimensional random vectors. More precisely, we establish conditions under which the distribution of the maximum is approximated by the maximum of a sum of the Gaussian random vectors with the same covariance matrices as the original vectors. The key innovation of our result is that it applies even if the dimension of random vectors (p) is much larger than the sample size (n). In fact, the growth of p could be exponential in some fractional power of n. We also show that the distribution of the maximum of a sum of the Gaussian random vectors with unknown covariance matrices can be estimated by the distribution of the maximum of the (conditional) Gaussian process obtained by multiplying the original vectors with i.i.d. Gaussian multipliers. We call this procedure the “multiplier bootstrap”. Here too, the growth of p could be exponential in some fractional power of n. We prove that our distributional approximations, either Gaussian or conditional Gaussian, yield a high-quality approximation for the distribution of the original maximum, often with at most a polynomial approximation error. These results are of interest in numerous econometric and statistical applications. In particular, we demonstrate how our central limit theorem and the multiplier bootstrap can be used for high dimensional estimation, multiple hypothesis testing, and adaptive specification testing. All of our results contain non-asymptotic bounds on approximation errors.
Central limit theorems and multiplier bootstrap when p is much larger than n
18 December 2012
Working Paper (CWP45/12)