AAAI Publications, Thirty-First AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Tsallis Regularized Optimal Transport and Ecological Inference
Boris Muzellec, Richard Nock, Giorgio Patrini, Frank Nielsen

Last modified: 2017-02-13


Optimal transport is a powerful framework for computing distances between probability distributions. We unify the two main approaches to optimal transport, namely Monge-Kantorovitch and Sinkhorn-Cuturi, into what we define as Tsallis regularized optimal transport (TROT). TROT interpolates a rich family of distortions from Wasserstein to Kullback-Leibler, encompassing as well Pearson, Neyman and Hellinger divergences, to name a few. We show that metric properties known for Sinkhorn-Cuturi generalize to TROT, and provide efficient algorithms for finding the optimal transportation plan with formal convergence proofs. We also present the first application of optimal transport to the problem of ecological inference, that is, the reconstruction of joint distributions from their marginals, a problem of large interest in the social sciences. TROT provides a convenient framework for ecological inference by allowing to compute the joint distribution -— that is, the optimal transportation plan itself — when side information is available, which is e.g. typically what census represents in political science. Experiments on data from the 2012 US presidential elections display the potential of TROT in delivering a faithful reconstruction of the joint distribution of ethnic groups and voter preferences.


Ecological Inference; Regularized Optimal Transport

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