Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)
Dangna Li, Kun Yang, Wing Hung Wong
Given $iid$ observations from an unknown continuous distribution defined on some domain $\Omega$, we propose a nonparametric method to learn a piecewise constant function to approximate the underlying probability density function. Our density estimate is a piecewise constant function defined on a binary partition of $\Omega$. The key ingredient of the algorithm is to use discrepancy, a concept originates from Quasi Monte Carlo analysis, to control the partition process. The resulting algorithm is simple, efficient, and has provable convergence rate. We demonstrate empirically its efficiency as a density estimation method. We also show how it can be utilized to find good initializations for k-means.