Statistical Insights into HSIC in High Dimensions

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Tao Zhang, Yaowu Zhang, Tingyou Zhou


Measuring the nonlinear dependence between random vectors and testing for their statistical independence is a fundamental problem in statistics. One of the most popular dependence measures is the Hilbert-Schmidt independence criterion (HSIC), which has attracted increasing attention in recent years. However, most existing works have focused on either fixed or very high-dimensional covariates. In this work, we bridge the gap between these two scenarios and provide statistical insights into the performance of HSIC when the dimensions grow at different rates. We first show that, under the null hypothesis, the rescaled HSIC converges in distribution to a standard normal distribution. Then we provide a general condition for the HSIC based tests to have nontrivial power in high dimensions. By decomposing this condition, we illustrate how the ability of HSIC to measure nonlinear dependence changes with increasing dimensions. Moreover, we demonstrate that, depending on the sample size, the covariate dimensions and the dependence structures within covariates, the HSIC can capture different types of associations between random vectors. We also conduct extensive numerical studies to validate our theoretical results.