Bias-corrected Estimation of the Density of a Conditional Expectation in Nested Simulation Problems

Ran Yang, David Kent, Daniel W. Apley, Jeremy Staum, David Ruppert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many two-level nested simulation applications involve the conditional expectation of some response variable, where the expected response is the quantity of interest, and the expectation is with respect to the inner-level random variables, conditioned on the outer-level random variables. The latter typically represent random risk factors, and risk can be quantified by estimating the probability density function (pdf) or cumulative distribution function (cdf) of the conditional expectation. Much prior work has considered a naïve estimator that uses the empirical distribution of the sample averages across the inner-level replicates. This results in a biased estimator, because the distribution of the sample averages is over-dispersed relative to the distribution of the conditional expectation when the number of inner-level replicates is finite. Whereas most prior work has focused on allocating the numbers of outer- and inner-level replicates to balance the bias/variance tradeoff, we develop a bias-corrected pdf estimator. Our approach is based on the concept of density deconvolution, which is widely used to estimate densities with noisy observations but has not previously been considered for nested simulation problems. For a fixed computational budget, the bias-corrected deconvolution estimator allows more outer-level and fewer inner-level replicates to be used, which substantially improves the efficiency of the nested simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalACM Transactions on Modeling and Computer Simulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Deconvolution
  • Stein's unbiased risk estimation
  • estimating a conditional variance
  • quadratic programming
  • rate of convergence
  • shape constraints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computer Science Applications


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