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Kernel Thinning
Lester Mackey · Raaz Dwivedi

Sat Jul 24 12:27 PM -- 12:32 PM (PDT) @ None
We introduce kernel thinning, a new procedure for compressing a distribution $\mathbb{P}$ more effectively than i.i.d. sampling or standard thinning. Given a suitable reproducing kernel $\mathbf{k}$ and $\mathcal{O}(n^2)$ time, kernel thinning compresses an $n$-point approximation to $\mathbb{P}$ into a $\sqrt{n}$-point approximation with comparable worst-case integration error across the associated reproducing kernel Hilbert space. With high probability, the maximum discrepancy in integration error is $\mathcal{O}_d(n^{-\frac{1}{2}}\sqrt{\log n})$ for compactly supported $\mathbb{P}$ and $\mathcal{O}_d(n^{-\frac{1}{2}} \sqrt{(\log n)^{d+1}\log\log n})$ for sub-exponential $\mathbb{P}$ on $\mathbb{R}^d$. In contrast, an equal-sized i.i.d. sample from $\mathbb{P}$ suffers $\Omega(n^{-\frac14})$ integration error. Our sub-exponential guarantees resemble the classical quasi-Monte Carlo error rates for uniform $\mathbb{P}$ on $[0,1]^d$ but apply to general distributions on $\mathbb{R}^d$ and a wide range of common kernels. We use our results to derive explicit non-asymptotic maximum mean discrepancy bounds for Gaussian, Mat\'ern, and B-spline kernels and present two vignettes illustrating the practical benefits of kernel thinning over i.i.d. sampling and standard Markov chain Monte Carlo thinning.

Author Information

Lester Mackey (Microsoft Research)
Lester Mackey

Lester Mackey is a machine learning researcher at Microsoft Research, where he develops new tools, models, and theory for large-scale learning tasks driven by applications from healthcare, climate, recommender systems, and the social good. Lester moved to Microsoft from Stanford University, where he was an assistant professor of Statistics and (by courtesy) of Computer Science. He earned his PhD in Computer Science and MA in Statistics from UC Berkeley and his BSE in Computer Science from Princeton University. He co-organized the second place team in the \$1M. Netflix Prize competition for collaborative filtering, won the \$50K Prise4Life ALS disease progression prediction challenge, won prizes for temperature and precipitation forecasting in the yearlong real-time \$800K Subseasonal Climate Forecast Rodeo, and received a best student paper award at the International Conference on Machine Learning.

Raaz Dwivedi (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA Berkeley)

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