On the Sample Complexity of Subspace Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 26 (NIPS 2013)

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Alessandro Rudi, Guillermo D. Canas, Lorenzo Rosasco


A large number of algorithms in machine learning, from principal component analysis (PCA), and its non-linear (kernel) extensions, to more recent spectral embedding and support estimation methods, rely on estimating a linear subspace from samples. In this paper we introduce a general formulation of this problem and derive novel learning error estimates. Our results rely on natural assumptions on the spectral properties of the covariance operator associated to the data distribution, and hold for a wide class of metrics between subspaces. As special cases, we discuss sharp error estimates for the reconstruction properties of PCA and spectral support estimation. Key to our analysis is an operator theoretic approach that has broad applicability to spectral learning methods.