Spectral Estimators for Structured Generalized Linear Models via Approximate Message Passing

28 Aug 2023  ·  Yihan Zhang, Hong Chang Ji, Ramji Venkataramanan, Marco Mondelli ·

We consider the problem of parameter estimation from observations given by a generalized linear model. Spectral methods are a simple yet effective approach for estimation: they estimate the parameter via the principal eigenvector of a matrix obtained by suitably preprocessing the observations. Despite their wide use, a rigorous performance characterization of spectral estimators, as well as a principled way to preprocess the data, is available only for unstructured (i.e., i.i.d. Gaussian and Haar) designs. In contrast, real-world design matrices are highly structured and exhibit non-trivial correlations. To address this problem, we consider correlated Gaussian designs which capture the anisotropic nature of the measurements via a feature covariance matrix $\Sigma$. Our main result is a precise asymptotic characterization of the performance of spectral estimators in this setting. This then allows to identify the optimal preprocessing that minimizes the number of samples needed to meaningfully estimate the parameter. Remarkably, such an optimal spectral estimator depends on $\Sigma$ only through its normalized trace, which can be consistently estimated from the data. Numerical results demonstrate the advantage of our principled approach over previous heuristic methods. Existing analyses of spectral estimators crucially rely on the rotational invariance of the design matrix. This key assumption does not hold for correlated Gaussian designs. To circumvent this difficulty, we develop a novel strategy based on designing and analyzing an approximate message passing algorithm whose fixed point coincides with the desired spectral estimator. Our methodology is general, and opens the way to the precise characterization of spiked matrices and of the corresponding spectral methods in a variety of settings.

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