Nonparametric maximum likelihood estimation for the multisample Wicksell corpuscle problem

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Abstract

We study nonparametric maximum likelihood estimation for the distribution of spherical radii using samples containing a mixture of one-dimensional, two-dimensional biased and three-dimensional unbiased observations. Since direct maximization of the likelihood function is intractable, we propose an expectation-maximization algorithm for implementing the estimator, which handles an indirect measurement problem and a sampling bias problem separately in the E- and M-steps, and circumvents the need to solve an Abel-type integral equation, which creates numerical instability in the one-sample problem. Extensions to ellipsoids are studied and connections to multiplicative censoring are discussed.

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