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Spectrum Estimation from a Few Entries

Ashish Khetan, Sewoong Oh; 20(21):1−55, 2019.


Singular values of a data in a matrix form provide insights on the structure of the data, the effective dimensionality, and the choice of hyper-parameters on higher-level data analysis tools. However, in many practical applications such as collaborative filtering and network analysis, we only get a partial observation. Under such scenarios, we consider the fundamental problem of recovering spectral properties of the underlying matrix from a sampling of its entries. In this paper, we address the problem of directly recovering the spectrum, which is the set of singular values, and also in sample-efficient approaches for recovering a spectral sum function, which is an aggregate sum of a fixed function applied to each of the singular values. Our approach is to first estimate the Schatten $k$-norms of a matrix for a small set of values of $k$, and then apply Chebyshev approximation when estimating a spectral sum function or apply moment matching in Wasserstein distance when estimating the singular values directly. The main technical challenge is in accurately estimating the Schatten norms from a sampling of a matrix. We introduce a novel unbiased estimator based on counting small structures called network motifs in a graph and provide guarantees that match its empirical performance. Our theoretical analysis shows that Schatten norms can be recovered accurately from strictly smaller number of samples compared to what is needed to recover the underlying low-rank matrix. Numerical experiments suggest that we significantly improve upon a competing approach of using matrix completion methods, below the matrix completion threshold, above which matrix completion algorithms recover the underlying low-rank matrix exactly.

© JMLR 2019. (edit, beta)