Maximum likelihood estimation for nets of conics

  • S. Dye
  • K. Kohn KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • F. Rydell KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • R. Sinn Universität Leipzig, Germany


We study the problem of maximum likelihood estimation for 3-dimensional linear spaces of 3 x 3 symmetric matrices from the point of view of algebraic statistics where we view these nets of conics as linear concentration or linear covariance models of Gaussian distributions on R3. In particular, we study the reciprocal surfaces of nets of conics which are rational surfaces in P5. We show that the reciprocal surfaces are projections from the Veronese surface and determine their intersection with the polar nets. This geometry explains the maximum likelihood degrees of these linear models. We compute the reciprocal maximum likelihood degrees. This work is based on Wall's classification of nets of conics from 1977.