Tim Sullivan

A rigorous theory of conditional mean embeddings

A rigorous theory of conditional mean embeddings

Ilja Klebanov, Ingmar Schuster, and I have just uploaded a preprint of our recent work “A rigorous theory of conditional mean embeddings” to the arXiv. In this work we take a close mathematical look at the method of conditional mean embedding. In this approach to non-parametric inference, a random variable \(Y \sim \mathbb{P}_{Y}\) in a set \(\mathcal{Y}\) is represented by its kernel mean embedding, the reproducing kernel Hilbert space element

\( \displaystyle \mu_{Y} = \int_{\mathcal{Y}} \psi(y) \, \mathrm{d} \mathbb{P}_{Y} (y) \in \mathcal{G}, \)

and conditioning with respect to an observation \(x\) of a related random variable \(X \sim \mathbb{P}_{X}\) in a set \(\mathcal{X}\) with RKHS \(\mathcal{H}\) is performed using the Woodbury formula

\( \displaystyle \mu_{Y|X = x} = \mu_Y + (C_{XX}^{\dagger} C_{XY})^\ast \, (\varphi(x) - \mu_X) . \)

Here \(\psi \colon \mathcal{Y} \to \mathcal{G}\) and \(\varphi \colon \mathcal{X} \to \mathcal{H}\) are the canonical feature maps and the \(C\)'s denote the appropriate centred (cross-)covariance operators of the embedded random variables \(\psi(Y)\) in \(\mathcal{G}\) and \(\varphi(X)\) in \(\mathcal{H}\).

Our article aims to provide rigorous mathematical foundations for this attractive but apparently naïve approach to conditional probability, and hence to Bayesian inference.

Abstract. Conditional mean embeddings (CME) have proven themselves to be a powerful tool in many machine learning applications. They allow the efficient conditioning of probability distributions within the corresponding reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHSs) by providing a linear-algebraic relation for the kernel mean embeddings of the respective probability distributions. Both centered and uncentered covariance operators have been used to define CMEs in the existing literature. In this paper, we develop a mathematically rigorous theory for both variants, discuss the merits and problems of either, and significantly weaken the conditions for applicability of CMEs. In the course of this, we demonstrate a beautiful connection to Gaussian conditioning in Hilbert spaces.

Published on Tuesday 3 December 2019 at 07:00 UTC #preprint #mathplus #tru2 #rkhs #mean-embedding #klebanov #schuster