Fast and Sample Near-Optimal Algorithms for Learning Multidimensional Histograms

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Ilias Diakonikolas, Jerry Li, Ludwig Schmidt ;
Proceedings of the 31st Conference On Learning Theory, PMLR 75:819-842, 2018.

Abstract

We study the problem of robustly learning multi-dimensional histograms. A $d$-dimensional function $h: D \to \R$ is called a $k$-histogram if there exists a partition of the domain $D \subseteq \R^d$ into $k$ axis-aligned rectangles such that $h$ is constant within each such rectangle. Let $f: D \to \R$ be a $d$-dimensional probability density function and suppose that $f$ is $\mathrm{OPT}$-close, in $L_1$-distance, to an unknown $k$-histogram (with unknown partition). Our goal is to output a hypothesis that is $O(\mathrm{OPT}) + \epsilon$ close to $f$, in $L_1$-distance. We give an algorithm for this learning problem that uses $n = \tilde{O}_d(k/\eps^2)$ samples and runs in time $\tilde{O}_d(n)$. For any fixed dimension, our algorithm has optimal sample complexity, up to logarithmic factors, and runs in near-linear time. Prior to our work, the time complexity of the $d=1$ case was well-understood, but significant gaps in our understanding remained even for $d=2$.

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