WOR and $p$'s: Sketches for $\ell_p$-Sampling Without Replacement

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

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Edith Cohen, Rasmus Pagh, David Woodruff


Weighted sampling is a fundamental tool in data analysis and machine learning pipelines. Samples are used for efficient estimation of statistics or as sparse representations of the data. When weight distributions are skewed, as is often the case in practice, without-replacement (WOR) sampling is much more effective than with-replacement (WR) sampling: It provides a broader representation and higher accuracy for the same number of samples. We design novel composable sketches for WOR {\em $\ell_p$ sampling}, weighted sampling of keys according to a power $p\in[0,2]$ of their frequency (or for signed data, sum of updates). Our sketches have size that grows only linearly with sample size. Our design is simple and practical, despite intricate analysis, and based on off-the-shelf use of widely implemented heavy hitters sketches such as \texttt{CountSketch}. Our method is the first to provide WOR sampling in the important regime of $p>1$ and the first to handle signed updates for $p>0$.