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Keywords:

  • Autocovariance function;
  • long-memory;
  • robustness;
  • influence function;
  • scale estimator;
  • Hadamard differentiability;
  • functional Delta method

A desirable property of an autocovariance estimator is to be robust to the presence of additive outliers. It is well known that the sample autocovariance, being based on moments, does not have this property. Hence, the use of an autocovariance estimator which is robust to additive outliers can be very useful for time-series modelling. In this article, the asymptotic properties of the robust scale and autocovariance estimators proposed by Rousseeuw and Croux (1993) and Ma and Genton (2000) are established for Gaussian processes, with either short- or long-range dependence. It is shown in the short-range dependence setting that this robust estimator is asymptotically normal at the rate inline image, where n is the number of observations. An explicit expression of the asymptotic variance is also given and compared with the asymptotic variance of the classical autocovariance estimator. In the long-range dependence setting, the limiting distribution displays the same behaviour as that of the classical autocovariance estimator, with a Gaussian limit and rate inline image when the Hurst parameter H is less than 3/4 and with a non-Gaussian limit (belonging to the second Wiener chaos) with rate depending on the Hurst parameter when H ∈ (3/4,1). Some Monte Carlo experiments are presented to illustrate our claims and the Nile River data are analysed as an application. The theoretical results and the empirical evidence strongly suggest using the robust estimators as an alternative to estimate the dependence structure of Gaussian processes.