Instance Based Approximations to Profile Maximum Likelihood

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

AuthorFeedback »Bibtex »MetaReview »Paper »Review »Supplemental »


Nima Anari, Moses Charikar, Kirankumar Shiragur, Aaron Sidford


In this paper we provide a new efficient algorithm for approximately computing the profile maximum likelihood (PML) distribution, a prominent quantity in symmetric property estimation. We provide an algorithm which matches the previous best known efficient algorithms for computing approximate PML distributions and improves when the number of distinct observed frequencies in the given instance is small. We achieve this result by exploiting new sparsity structure in approximate PML distributions and providing a new matrix rounding algorithm, of independent interest. Leveraging this result, we obtain the first provable computationally efficient implementation of PseudoPML, a general framework for estimating a broad class of symmetric properties. Additionally, we obtain efficient PML-based estimators for distributions with small profile entropy, a natural instance-based complexity measure. Further, we provide a simpler and more practical PseudoPML implementation that matches the best-known theoretical guarantees of such an estimator and evaluate this method empirically.