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Learning & Exploiting Low-Dimensional Structure in High-Dimensional Data

Duke Math
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Thursday, February 27, 2020
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3:15 pm - 4:15 pm
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Didong Li (Duke)
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Probability Seminar

Data lying in a high dimensional ambient space are commonly thought to have a much lower intrinsic dimension. In particular, the data may be concentrated near a lower-dimensional subspace or manifold. There is an immense literature focused on approximating the unknown subspace and the unknown density, and exploiting such approximations in clustering, data compression, and building of predictive models. Most of the literature relies on approximating subspaces and densities using a locally linear, and potentially multiscale, dictionary with Gaussian kernels. In this talk, we propose a simple and general alternative, which instead uses pieces of spheres, or spherelets, to locally approximate the unknown subspace. I will also introduce a curved kernel called the Fisher-Gaussian (FG) kernel which outperforms multivariate Gaussians in many cases. Theory is developed showing that spherelets can produce lower covering numbers and mean square errors for many manifolds, as well as the posterior consistency of the Dirichlet process mixture of the FG kernels. Time permitting, I will also talk about an ongoing project about stochastic differential geometry.