Intrinsic dimensionality estimation using Normalizing Flows

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Christian Horvat, Jean-Pascal Pfister


How many degrees of freedom are there in a dataset consisting of $M$ samples embedded in $\mathbb{R}^D$? This number, formally known as \textsl{intrinsic dimensionality}, can be estimated using nearest neighbor statistics. However, nearest neighbor statistics do not scale to large datasets as their complexity scales quadratically in $M$, $\mathcal{O}(M^2)$. Additionally, methods based on nearest neighbor statistics perform poorly on datasets embedded in high dimensions where $D\gg 1$. In this paper, we propose a novel method to estimate the intrinsic dimensionality using Normalizing Flows that scale to large datasets and high dimensions. The method is based on some simple back-of-the-envelope calculations predicting how the singular values of the flow's Jacobian change when inflating the dataset with different noise magnitudes. Singular values associated with directions normal to the manifold evolve differently than singular values associated with directions tangent to the manifold. We test our method on various datasets, including 64x64 RGB images, where we achieve state-of-the-art results.