A Rigorous Theory of Conditional Mean Embeddings


Conditional mean embeddings (CMEs) have proven themselves to be a powerful tool in many machine learning applications. They allow the efficient conditioning of probability distributions within the corresponding reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces by providing a linear-algebraic relation for the kernel mean embeddings of the respective joint and conditional probability distributions. Both centered and uncentered covariance operators have been used to define CMEs in the existing literature. In this paper, we develop a mathematically rigorous theory for both variants, discuss the merits and problems of each, and significantly weaken the conditions for applicability of CMEs. In the course of this, we demonstrate a beautiful connection to Gaussian conditioning in Hilbert spaces.

SIAM Journal on Mathematics of Data Science