Sample-Efficient Learning of Mixtures

6 Jun 2017  ·  Hassan Ashtiani, Shai Ben-David, Abbas Mehrabian ·

We consider PAC learning of probability distributions (a.k.a. density estimation), where we are given an i.i.d... sample generated from an unknown target distribution, and want to output a distribution that is close to the target in total variation distance. Let $\mathcal F$ be an arbitrary class of probability distributions, and let $\mathcal{F}^k$ denote the class of $k$-mixtures of elements of $\mathcal F$. Assuming the existence of a method for learning $\mathcal F$ with sample complexity $m_{\mathcal{F}}(\epsilon)$, we provide a method for learning $\mathcal F^k$ with sample complexity $O({k\log k \cdot m_{\mathcal F}(\epsilon) }/{\epsilon^{2}})$. Our mixture learning algorithm has the property that, if the $\mathcal F$-learner is proper/agnostic, then the $\mathcal F^k$-learner would be proper/agnostic as well. This general result enables us to improve the best known sample complexity upper bounds for a variety of important mixture classes. First, we show that the class of mixtures of $k$ axis-aligned Gaussians in $\mathbb{R}^d$ is PAC-learnable in the agnostic setting with $\widetilde{O}({kd}/{\epsilon ^ 4})$ samples, which is tight in $k$ and $d$ up to logarithmic factors. Second, we show that the class of mixtures of $k$ Gaussians in $\mathbb{R}^d$ is PAC-learnable in the agnostic setting with sample complexity $\widetilde{O}({kd^2}/{\epsilon ^ 4})$, which improves the previous known bounds of $\widetilde{O}({k^3d^2}/{\epsilon ^ 4})$ and $\widetilde{O}(k^4d^4/\epsilon ^ 2)$ in its dependence on $k$ and $d$. Finally, we show that the class of mixtures of $k$ log-concave distributions over $\mathbb{R}^d$ is PAC-learnable using $\widetilde{O}(d^{(d+5)/2}\epsilon^{-(d+9)/2}k)$ samples. read more

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