Variable selection and prediction with incomplete high-dimensional data

Ying Liu, Yuanjia Wang, Yang Feng, Melanie M. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose a Multiple Imputation Random Lasso (MIRL) method to select important variables and to predict the outcome for an epidemiological study of Eating and Activity in Teens. In this study 80% of individuals have at least one variable missing. Therefore, using variable selection methods developed for complete data after listwise deletion substantially reduces prediction power. Recent work on prediction models in the presence of incomplete data cannot adequately account for large numbers of variables with arbitrary missing patterns. We propose MIRL to combine penalized regression techniques with multiple imputation and stability selection. Extensive simulation studies are conducted to compare MIRL with several alternatives. MIRL outperforms other methods in high-dimensional scenarios in terms of both reduced prediction error and improved variable selection performance, and it has greater advantage when the correlation among variables is high and missing proportion is high. MIRL is shown to have improved performance when comparing with other applicable methods when applied to the study of Eating and Activity in Teens for the boys and girls separately, and to a subgroup of low social economic status (SES) Asian boys who are at high risk of developing obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-450
Number of pages33
JournalAnnals of Applied Statistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Missing data
  • Multiple imputation
  • Random lasso
  • Stability selection
  • Variable ranking
  • Variable selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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