Timezone: »

 
Poster
Efficient Clustering for Stretched Mixtures: Landscape and Optimality
Kaizheng Wang · Yuling Yan · Mateo Diaz

Tue Dec 08 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Poster Session 1 #276

This paper considers a canonical clustering problem where one receives unlabeled samples drawn from a balanced mixture of two elliptical distributions and aims for a classifier to estimate the labels. Many popular methods including PCA and k-means require individual components of the mixture to be somewhat spherical, and perform poorly when they are stretched. To overcome this issue, we propose a non-convex program seeking for an affine transform to turn the data into a one-dimensional point cloud concentrating around -1 and 1, after which clustering becomes easy. Our theoretical contributions are two-fold: (1) we show that the non-convex loss function exhibits desirable geometric properties when the sample size exceeds some constant multiple of the dimension, and (2) we leverage this to prove that an efficient first-order algorithm achieves near-optimal statistical precision without good initialization. We also propose a general methodology for clustering with flexible choices of feature transforms and loss objectives.

Author Information

Kaizheng Wang (Columbia University)
Yuling Yan (Princeton University)
Mateo Diaz (Cornell University)

More from the Same Authors