Half-space mass: a maximally robust and efficient data depth method

Bo Chen, Kai Ming Ting, Takashi Washio, Gholamreza Haffari

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Data depth is a statistical method which models data distribution in terms of center-outward ranking rather than density or linear ranking. While there are a lot of academic interests, its applications are hampered by the lack of a method which is both robust and efficient. This paper introduces Half-Space Mass which is a significantly improved version of half-space data depth. Half-Space Mass is the only data depth method which is both robust and efficient, as far as we know. We also reveal four theoretical properties of Half-Space Mass: (i) its resultant mass distribution is concave regardless of the underlying density distribution, (ii) its maximum point is unique which can be considered as median, (iii) the median is maximally robust, and (iv) its estimation extends to a higher dimensional space in which the convex hull of the dataset occupies zero volume. We demonstrate the power of Half-Space Mass through its applications in two tasks. In anomaly detection, being a maximally robust location estimator leads directly to a robust anomaly detector that yields a better detection accuracy than half-space depth; and it runs orders of magnitude faster than $$L_2$$L2 depth, an existing maximally robust location estimator. In clustering, the Half-Space Mass version of K-means overcomes three weaknesses of K-means.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)677-699
    Number of pages23
    JournalMachine Learning
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2015


    • Data depth
    • Half-space mass
    • Mass estimation
    • Robustness

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