Near-Optimal Sample Complexity Bounds for Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Multivariate Log-concave Densities


Timothy Carpenter, Ilias Diakonikolas, Anastasios Sidiropoulos, Alistair Stewart ;
Proceedings of the 31st Conference On Learning Theory, PMLR 75:1234-1262, 2018.


We study the problem of learning multivariate log-concave densities with respect to a global loss function. We obtain the first upper bound on the sample complexity of the maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) for a log-concave density on $\mathbb{R}^d$, for all $d \geq 4$. Prior to this work, no finite sample upper bound was known for this estimator in more than $3$ dimensions. In more detail, we prove that for any $d \geq 1$ and $\epsilon>0$, given $\tilde{O}_d((1/\epsilon)^{(d+3)/2})$ samples drawn from an unknown log-concave density $f_0$ on $\mathbb{R}^d$, the MLE outputs a hypothesis $h$ that with high probability is $\epsilon$-close to $f_0$, in squared Hellinger loss. A sample complexity lower bound of $\Omega_d((1/\epsilon)^{(d+1)/2})$ was previously known for any learning algorithm that achieves this guarantee. We thus establish that the sample complexity of the log-concave MLE is near-optimal, up to an $\tilde{O}(1/\epsilon)$ factor.

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