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# Dimensionality Reduction for General KDE Mode Finding

*Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 202:23067-23082, 2023.

#### Abstract

Finding the mode of a high dimensional probability distribution $\mathcal{D}$ is a fundamental algorithmic problem in statistics and data analysis. There has been particular interest in efficient methods for solving the problem when $\mathcal{D}$ is represented as a mixture model or kernel density estimate, although few algorithmic results with worst-case approximation and runtime guarantees are known. In this work, we significantly generalize a result of (LeeLiMusco:2021) on mode approximation for Gaussian mixture models. We develop randomized dimensionality reduction methods for mixtures involving a broader class of kernels, including the popular logistic, sigmoid, and generalized Gaussian kernels. As in Lee et al.’s work, our dimensionality reduction results yield quasi-polynomial algorithms for mode finding with multiplicative accuracy $(1-\epsilon)$ for any $\epsilon > 0$. Moreover, when combined with gradient descent, they yield efficient practical heuristics for the problem. In addition to our positive results, we prove a hardness result for box kernels, showing that there is no polynomial time algorithm for finding the mode of a kernel density estimate, unless $\mathit{P} = \mathit{NP}$. Obtaining similar hardness results for kernels used in practice (like Gaussian or logistic kernels) is an interesting future direction.