Minimax Gaussian Classification & Clustering


Tianyang Li, Xinyang Yi, Constantine Carmanis, Pradeep Ravikumar ;
Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 54:1-9, 2017.


We present minimax bounds for classification and clustering error in the setting where covariates are drawn from a mixture of two isotropic Gaussian distributions. Here, we define clustering error in a discriminative fashion, demonstrating fundamental connections between classification (supervised) and clustering (unsupervised). For both classification and clustering, our lower bounds show that without enough samples, the best any classifier or clustering rule can do is close to random guessing. For classification, as part of our upper bound analysis, we show that Fisher's linear discriminant achieves a fast minimax rate $\Theta(1/n)$ with enough samples $n$. For clustering, as part of our upper bound analysis, we show that a clustering rule constructed using principal component analysis achieves the minimax rate with enough samples. We also provide lower and upper bounds for the high-dimensional sparse setting where the dimensionality of the covariates $p$ is potentially larger than the number of samples $n$, but where the difference between the Gaussian means is sparse.

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