|Abstract||A systematic method for bandwidth parameter selection is desired for Thomson multitaper spectrum estimation. We give a method for determining the optimal bandwidth based on a mean squared error (MSE) criterion. When the true spectrum has a second-order Taylor series expansion, one can express quadratic local bias as a function of the curvature of the spectrum, which can be estimated by using a simple spline approximation. This is combined with a variance estimate, obtained by jackknifing over individual spectrum estimates, to produce an estimated MSE for the log spectrum estimate for each choice of time-bandwidth product. The bandwidth that minimizes the estimated MSE then gives the desired spectrum estimate. Additionally, the bandwidth obtained using our method
is also optimal for cepstrum estimates. We give an example of a damped oscillatory (Lorentzian) process in which the approximate optimal bandwidth can be written as a function of the damping parameter. The true optimal bandwidth agrees well with that given by minimizing estimated the MSE in these examples.