Input Sparsity and Hardness for Robust Subspace Approximation by Kenneth L. Clarkson, David P. Woodruff

In the subspace approximation problem, we seek a k-dimensional subspace F of R^d that minimizes the sum of p-th powers of Euclidean distances to a given set of n points a_1, ..., a_n in R^d, for p ge 1. More generally than minimizing sum_i dist(a_i,F)^p,we may wish to minimize sum_i M(dist(a_i,F)) for some loss function M(), for example, M-Estimators, which include the Huber and Tukey loss functions. Such subspaces provide alternatives to the singular value decomposition (SVD), which is the p=2 case, finding such an F that minimizes the sum of squares of distances. For p in [1,2), and for typical M-Estimators, the minimizing $F$ gives a solution that is more robust to outliers than that provided by the SVD. We give several algorithmic and hardness results for these robust subspace approximation problems.

We think of the n points as forming an n x d matrix A, and letting nnz(A) denote the number of non-zero entries of A. Our results hold for p in [1,2). We use poly(n) to denote n^{O(1)} as n goes to infty. We obtain:

(1) For minimizing sum_i dist(a_i,F)^p, we give an algorithm running in O(nnz(A) + (n+d)poly(k/eps) + exp(poly(k/eps))),

(2) we show that the problem of minimizing sum_i dist(a_i, F)^p is NP-hard, even to output a (1+1/poly(d))-approximation, answering a question of Kannan and Vempala, and complementing prior results which held for p gt 2,

(3) For loss functions for a wide class of M-Estimators, we give a problem-size reduction: for a parameter K=(log n)^{O(log k)}, our reduction takes O(nnz(A) log n + (n+d) poly(K/eps)) time to reduce the problem to a constrained version involving matrices whose dimensions are poly(K eps^{-1} log n). We also give bicriteria solutions,

(4) Our techniques lead to the first O(nnz(A) + poly(d/eps)) time algorithms for (1+eps)-approximate regression for a wide class of convex M-Estimators.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Sputnik Planum, in Color

Release Date: October 15, 2015

Keywords: LORRI, MVIC, PlutoThis high-resolution image captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). The bright expanse is the western lobe of the "heart," informally called Sputnik Planum, which has been found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices.

Release Date: October 15, 2015

Keywords: LORRI, MVIC, PlutoThis high-resolution image captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). The bright expanse is the western lobe of the "heart," informally called Sputnik Planum, which has been found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices.

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