Learning rates for Gaussian mixtures under group action


Victor-Emmanuel Brunel ;
Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 99:471-491, 2019.


We study the pointwise maximum likelihood estimation rates for a class of Gaussian mixtures that are invariant under the action of some isometry group. This model is also known as multi-reference alignment, where random rotations of a given vector are observed, up to Gaussian noise. We completely characterize the speed of the maximum likelihood estimator, by giving a comprehensive description of the likelihood geometry of the model. We show that the unknown parameter can always be decomposed into two components, one of which can be estimated at the fast rate $n^{-1/2}$, the other one being estimated at the slower rate $n^{-1/4}$. We provide an algebraic description and a geometric interpretation of these facts.

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