Kernel Choice and Classifiability for RKHS Embeddings of Probability Distributions
Bharath Sriperumbudur · Kenji Fukumizu · Arthur Gretton · Gert Lanckriet · Bernhard Schölkopf

Wed Dec 9th 11:40 AM -- 12:00 PM @ None

Embeddings of probability measures into reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces have been proposed as a straightforward and practical means of representing and comparing probabilities. In particular, the distance between embeddings (the maximum mean discrepancy, or MMD) has several key advantages over many classical metrics on distributions, namely easy computability, fast convergence and low bias of finite sample estimates. An important requirement of the embedding RKHS is that it be characteristic: in this case, the MMD between two distributions is zero if and only if the distributions coincide. Three new results on the MMD are introduced in the present study. First, it is established that MMD corresponds to the optimal risk of a kernel classifier, thus forming a natural link between the distance between distributions and their ease of classification. An important consequence is that a kernel must be characteristic to guarantee classifiability between distributions in the RKHS. Second, the class of characteristic kernels is broadened to incorporate all bounded, continuous strictly positive definite kernels: these include non-translation invariant kernels and kernels on non-compact domains. Third, a generalization of the MMD is proposed for families of kernels, as the supremum over MMDs on a class of kernels (for instance the Gaussian kernels with different bandwidths). This extension is necessary to obtain a single distance measure if a large selection or class of characteristic kernels is potentially appropriate. This generalization is reasonable, given that it corresponds to the problem of learning the kernel by minimizing the risk of the corresponding kernel classifier. The generalized MMD is shown to have consistent finite sample estimates, and its performance is demonstrated on a homogeneity testing example.

Author Information

Bharath Sriperumbudur (The Pennsylvania State University)
Kenji Fukumizu (Institute of Statistical Mathematics / Preferred Networks / RIKEN AIP)
Arthur Gretton (Gatsby Unit, UCL)

Arthur Gretton is a Professor with the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at UCL. He received degrees in Physics and Systems Engineering from the Australian National University, and a PhD with Microsoft Research and the Signal Processing and Communications Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics, and at the Machine Learning Department, Carnegie Mellon University. Arthur's recent research interests in machine learning include the design and training of generative models, both implicit (e.g. GANs) and explicit (high/infinite dimensional exponential family models), nonparametric hypothesis testing, and kernel methods. He has been an associate editor at IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence from 2009 to 2013, an Action Editor for JMLR since April 2013, an Area Chair for NeurIPS in 2008 and 2009, a Senior Area Chair for NeurIPS in 2018, an Area Chair for ICML in 2011 and 2012, and a member of the COLT Program Committee in 2013. Arthur was program chair for AISTATS in 2016 (with Christian Robert), tutorials chair for ICML 2018 (with Ruslan Salakhutdinov), workshops chair for ICML 2019 (with Honglak Lee), program chair for the Dali workshop in 2019 (with Krikamol Muandet and Shakir Mohammed), and co-organsier of the Machine Learning Summer School 2019 in London (with Marc Deisenroth).

Gert Lanckriet (U.C. San Diego)
Bernhard Schölkopf (MPI for Intelligent Systems)

Bernhard Scholkopf received degrees in mathematics (London) and physics (Tubingen), and a doctorate in computer science from the Technical University Berlin. He has researched at AT&T Bell Labs, at GMD FIRST, Berlin, at the Australian National University, Canberra, and at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK). In 2001, he was appointed scientific member of the Max Planck Society and director at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics; in 2010 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. For further information, see www.kyb.tuebingen.mpg.de/~bs.

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