Nonparanormal Information Estimation

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Shashank Singh, Barnabás Póczos ;
Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 70:3210-3219, 2017.

Abstract

We study the problem of using i.i.d. samples from an unknown multivariate probability distribution p to estimate the mutual information of p. This problem has recently received attention in two settings: (1) where p is assumed to be Gaussian and (2) where p is assumed only to lie in a large nonparametric smoothness class. Estimators proposed for the Gaussian case converge in high dimensions when the Gaussian assumption holds, but are brittle, failing dramatically when p is not Gaussian, while estimators proposed for the nonparametric case fail to converge with realistic sample sizes except in very low dimension. Hence, there is a lack of robust mutual information estimators for many realistic data. To address this, we propose estimators for mutual information when p is assumed to be a nonparanormal (or Gaussian copula) model, a semiparametric compromise between Gaussian and nonparametric extremes. Using theoretical bounds and experiments, we show these estimators strike a practical balance between robustness and scalability.

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