Maximum likelihood estimation in semiparametric regression models with censored data


D. Y. Lin, Department of Biostatistics, CB 7420, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7420, USA.


Summary.  Semiparametric regression models play a central role in formulating the effects of covariates on potentially censored failure times and in the joint modelling of incomplete repeated measures and failure times in longitudinal studies. The presence of infinite dimensional parameters poses considerable theoretical and computational challenges in the statistical analysis of such models. We present several classes of semiparametric regression models, which extend the existing models in important directions. We construct appropriate likelihood functions involving both finite dimensional and infinite dimensional parameters. The maximum likelihood estimators are consistent and asymptotically normal with efficient variances. We develop simple and stable numerical techniques to implement the corresponding inference procedures. Extensive simulation experiments demonstrate that the inferential and computational methods proposed perform well in practical settings. Applications to three medical studies yield important new insights. We conclude that there is no reason, theoretical or numerical, not to use maximum likelihood estimation for semiparametric regression models. We discuss several areas that need further research.