Thresholding Based Outlier Robust PCA
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 65:593-628, 2017.
We consider the problem of outlier robust PCA (\textbfOR-PCA) where the goal is to recover principal directions despite the presence of outlier data points. That is, given a data matrix $M^*$, where $(1-α)$ fraction of the points are noisy samples from a low-dimensional subspace while $α$ fraction of the points can be arbitrary outliers, the goal is to recover the subspace accurately. Existing results for \textbfOR-PCA have serious drawbacks: while some results are quite weak in the presence of noise, other results have runtime quadratic in dimension, rendering them impractical for large scale applications. In this work, we provide a novel thresholding based iterative algorithm with per-iteration complexity at most linear in the data size. Moreover, the fraction of outliers, $α$, that our method can handle is tight up to constants while providing nearly optimal computational complexity for a general noise setting. For the special case where the inliers are obtained from a low-dimensional subspace with additive Gaussian noise, we show that a modification of our thresholding based method leads to significant improvement in recovery error (of the subspace) even in the presence of a large fraction of outliers.