Agnostic Estimation of Mean and Covariance

24 Apr 2016  ·  Kevin A. Lai, Anup B. Rao, Santosh Vempala ·

We consider the problem of estimating the mean and covariance of a distribution from iid samples in $\mathbb{R}^n$, in the presence of an $\eta$ fraction of malicious noise; this is in contrast to much recent work where the noise itself is assumed to be from a distribution of known type. The agnostic problem includes many interesting special cases, e.g., learning the parameters of a single Gaussian (or finding the best-fit Gaussian) when $\eta$ fraction of data is adversarially corrupted, agnostically learning a mixture of Gaussians, agnostic ICA, etc. We present polynomial-time algorithms to estimate the mean and covariance with error guarantees in terms of information-theoretic lower bounds. As a corollary, we also obtain an agnostic algorithm for Singular Value Decomposition.

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