Description

The question of polynomial learnability of probability distributions, particularly Gaussian mixture distributions, has recently received significant attention in theoretical computer science and machine learning. However, despite major progress, the general question of polynomial learnability of Gaussian mixture distributions still remained open. The current work resolves the question of polynomial learnability for Gaussian mixtures in high dimension with an arbitrary but fixed number of components.

The result for Gaussian distributions relies on a very general result of independent interest on learning parameters of distributions belonging to what we call {it polynomial families}. These families are characterized by their moments being polynomial of parameters and, perhaps surprisingly, include almost all common probability distributions as well as their mixtures and products. Using tools from real algebraic geometry, we show that parameters of any distribution belonging to such a family can be learned in polynomial time.

To estimate parameters of a Gaussian mixture distribution the general results on polynomial families are combined with a certain deterministic dimensionality reduction allowing learning a high-dimensional mixture to be reduced to a polynomial number of parameter estimation problems in low dimension.

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