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Group invariance and computational sufficiency

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STSW04 - Future challenges in statistical scalability

Statistical sufficiency formalizes the notion of data reduction. In the decision theoretic interpretation, once a model is chosen all inferences should be based on a sufficient statistic. However, suppose we start with a set of methods that share a sufficient statistic rather than a specific model. Is it possible to reduce the data beyond the statistic and yet still be able to compute all of the methods? In this talk, I'll present some progress towards a theory of “computational sufficiency” and show that strong reductions can be made for large classes of penalized M-estimators by exploiting hidden symmetries in the underlying optimization problems. These reductions can (1) enable efficient computation and (2) reveal hidden connections between seemingly disparate methods. As a main example, I'll show how the theory provides a surprising answer to the following question: “What do the Graphical Lasso, sparse PCA , single-linkage clustering, and L1 penalized Ising model selection all have in common?”

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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