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On The Relative Error of Random Fourier Features for Preserving Kernel Distance

Kuan Cheng · Shaofeng Jiang · Luojian Wei · Zhide Wei

MH1-2-3-4 #161

Keywords: [ Theory ] [ clustering ] [ kernel methods ] [ Laplacian kernel ] [ dimension reduction ] [ random Fourier features ]


Abstract: The method of random Fourier features (RFF), proposed in a seminal paper by Rahimi and Recht (NIPS'07), is a powerful technique to find approximate low-dimensional representations of points in (high-dimensional) kernel space, for shift-invariant kernels. While RFF has been analyzed under various notions of error guarantee, the ability to preserve the kernel distance with \emph{relative} error is less understood. We show that for a significant range of kernels, including the well-known Laplacian kernels, RFF cannot approximate the kernel distance with small relative error using low dimensions. We complement this by showing as long as the shift-invariant kernel is analytic, RFF with $\mathrm{poly}(\epsilon^{-1} \log n)$ dimensions achieves $\epsilon$-relative error for pairwise kernel distance of $n$ points, and the dimension bound is improved to $\mathrm{poly}(\epsilon^{-1}\log k)$ for the specific application of kernel $k$-means. Finally, going beyond RFF, we make the first step towards data-oblivious dimension-reduction for general shift-invariant kernels, and we obtain a similar $\mathrm{poly}(\epsilon^{-1} \log n)$ dimension bound for Laplacian kernels. We also validate the dimension-error tradeoff of our methods on simulated datasets, and they demonstrate superior performance compared with other popular methods including random-projection and Nystr\"{o}m methods.

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