Self-Consistent Nonparametric Maximum Likelihood Estimator of the Bivariate Survivor Function.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Prentice, R L


Biometrika, Volume 101, Issue 3, p.505-518 (2014)


As usually formulated the nonparametric likelihood for the bivariate survivor function is over-parameterized, resulting in uniqueness problems for the corresponding nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator. Here the estimation problem is redefined to include parameters for marginal hazard rates, and for double failure hazard rates only at informative uncensored failure time grid points where there is pertinent empirical information. Double failure hazard rates at other grid points in the risk region are specified rather than estimated. With this approach the nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator is unique, and can be calculated using a two-step procedure. The first step involves setting aside all doubly censored observations that are interior to the risk region. The nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator from the remaining data turns out to be the Dabrowska (1988) estimator. The omitted doubly censored observations are included in the procedure in the second stage using self-consistency, resulting in a non-iterative nonpara-metric maximum likelihood estimator for the bivariate survivor function. Simulation evaluation and asymptotic distributional results are provided. Moderate sample size efficiency for the survivor function nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator is similar to that for the Dabrowska estimator as applied to the entire dataset, while some useful efficiency improvement arises for corresponding distribution function estimator, presumably due to the avoidance of negative mass assignments.