Non-Bayesian Parametric Missing-Mass Estimation

Shir Cohen, Tirza Routtenberg, Lang Tong

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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We consider the classical problem of missing-mass estimation, which deals with estimating the total probability of unseen elements in a sample. The missing-mass estimation problem has various applications in machine learning, statistics, language processing, ecology, sensor networks, and others. The naive, constrained maximum likelihood (CML) estimator is inappropriate for this problem since it tends to overestimate the probability of the observed elements. Similarly, the conventional constrained Cramer-Rao bound (CCRB), which is a lower bound on the mean-squared-error (MSE) of unbiased estimators, does not provide a relevant bound on the performance for this problem. In this paper, we introduce a frequentist, non-Bayesian parametric model of the problem of missing-mass estimation. We introduce the concept of missing-mass unbiasedness by using the Lehmann unbiasedness definition. We derive a non-Bayesian CCRB-type lower bound on the missing-mass MSE (mmMSE), named the missing-mass CCRB (mmCCRB), based on the missing-mass unbiasedness. The missing-mass unbiasedness and the proposed mmCCRB can be used to evaluate the performance of existing estimators. Based on the new mmCCRB, we propose a new method to improve existing estimators by an iterative missing-mass Fisher scoring method. Finally, we demonstrate via numerical simulations that the proposed mmCCRB is a valid and informative lower bound on the mmMSE of state-of-the-art estimators for this problem: the CML, the Good-Turing, and Laplace estimators. We also show that the performance of the Laplace estimator is improved by using the new Fisher-scoring method.
Original languageEnglish GB
StatePublished - 12 Jan 2021


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