What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-23T02:26:28Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/59748 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/59748/what-structure-is-needed-to-define-a-gaussian-distribution-on-a-given-space What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? Simon Lyons 2011-03-27T18:41:21Z 2011-03-29T16:38:17Z <p>In most textbooks, the normal distribution is defined on $\mathbb{R}^n$ by specifying its probability density function. This works perfectly well, but it isn't really amenable to generalisation.</p> <p>I'm wondering what the minimal structure is that one must have on a given space $S$ before one can define an analogue of the normal distribution. If $S$ has a Riemannian metric defined on it, then one can define a Brownian motion on $S$ using the Laplace-Beltrami operator. The family of normal distributions on $S$ could then be defined as the one-dimensional marginals of the Brownian motion.</p> <p>Alternatively, the normal distribution could be characterised as the distribution that maximises entropy when its mean and variance are known. This characterisation only seems to require a notion of "mean" (which suggests that $S$ must be a metric space).</p> <p>Is there a more general construction of the normal distribution?</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/59748/what-structure-is-needed-to-define-a-gaussian-distribution-on-a-given-space/59752#59752 Answer by jzadeh for What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? jzadeh 2011-03-27T19:08:50Z 2011-03-27T19:26:20Z <p>One general construction can be found in Revuz and Yor "Continuous Martingales and Brownian Motion" for instance:</p> <p>proposition (1.3)</p> <p>Let $H$ be a separable real Hilbert space. There exist a probability space $\left( \Omega, \mathcal{F}, \mathbb{P} \right)$ and a family $X(h)$, $h \in H$ of random variables on the space such that</p> <p>i) the map $h \rightarrow X(h)$ is linear</p> <p>ii) for each $h$ the random variable $X(h)$ is Gaussian centered and $\mathbb{E} [ X(h)^2] = ||h||_{H}^{2}$</p> <p>Nualarts book "Malliavian Calculus" also starts with the notion of isonormal Gaussian process which is general as well as Adler's books on Gaussian processes.</p> <p>Alternatively you could look at one of T. Hida's books on White noise analysis for a construction based on the bochner-milnos theorem and Nuclear spaces.</p> <p>Sorry none of these have a geometric perspective that I am aware of... </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/59748/what-structure-is-needed-to-define-a-gaussian-distribution-on-a-given-space/59835#59835 Answer by Syang Chen for What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? Syang Chen 2011-03-28T13:51:37Z 2011-03-29T16:38:17Z <p>Let me assume that you seek for the generalization of Gaussian distribution in order to generalize the Brownian motion.</p> <p>As far as I know, regarding the heat kernel as the generalization of the Gaussian distribution has long been adopted in many literatures. It comes from the following observation.</p> <p>In $\mathbb {R}^1$, the following notions coincide:</p> <p>(1) Gaussian distribution $N(x,t)\sim f(t,x,y)=\frac {1}{\sqrt{2\pi t}}e^{\frac{-(y-x)^2}{2t}}$,</p> <p>(2) transition function $p(t,x,y)$ of the Brownian motion $B_t$,</p> <p>(3) (heat kernel) fundamental solution $k_t(x,y)$ of the heat equation $\partial_t k=\Delta_y k$, with initial data $\delta_x$.</p> <p>Thus, on manifolds, one way to define the Brownian motion is to construct a Markov process on the manifold whose transition function is exactly the heat kernel (let's identify the heat kernel with the Gaussian distribution in this setting). Since we always have the Laplacian-Beltrami $\Delta$ on a manifold, it is justifiable to talk about the heat equation and thus the heat kernel, and the Brownian motion in this sense is known to exist for a large class of manifolds. </p> <p>But on metric spaces, we no longer have the Laplacian-Beltrami. So, in order to talk about heat kernel/Gaussian distribution, we need to generalize the notion of Laplacian-Beltrami. The key concept on this line the so-called <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirichlet_form" rel="nofollow">Dirichlet form</a>. A Dirichlet form on metric measure space $(X,d,\mu)$ a closed symmetric form $(\cdot,\cdot)$ defined on $L^2(X,\mu)$. It should further satisfy a couple of conditions so that it behaves like its prototype $(f,g)=\int_{M} {\nabla f\cdot \nabla g dx}$ on a manifold $M$. Notice that $(f,g)=(-\Delta f,g)_{L^2(M)}$ on manifolds, in the general case, one obtains the desired "Laplacian" by the same formula. Therefore, every Dirichlet form corresponds to a "Laplacian" and thus a Gaussian distribution (and thus a Brownian motion). What's more, a reasonable Dirichlet form always exists provided the space is suitably good.</p> <p>In sum, if the space you are considering have both metric and measure structures, then the theory of Dirichlet form may provide you some satisfactory results regarding construction and properties of the Guassian distribution (and thus the Brownian motion). Roughly speaking, if we don't have a presumed measure, we may not be able to construct a reasonable probability space; if we don't have a metric, it would be hard to measure the regularity and decay of the Gaussian distribution. So metric measure structure might be the minimal structure for reasonable construction of Gaussian distribution.</p> <p>Some reference books could be found in the above link. <a href="http://projecteuclid.org/euclid.aop/1022855410" rel="nofollow">This paper by Sturm</a> may allow you to have a glance at the whole picture. I am not an expert in this field. I apologize in advance for any mistake and naivety.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/59748/what-structure-is-needed-to-define-a-gaussian-distribution-on-a-given-space/59838#59838 Answer by Mark Meckes for What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? Mark Meckes 2011-03-28T14:08:01Z 2011-03-28T14:08:01Z <p>There is a standard definition for a Gaussian distribution on a Banach space (see e.g. <em>Probability in Banach Spaces</em> by Ledoux and Talagrand). A random vector $X$ with values in a Banach space $B$ is called Gaussian if it is Radon (a regularity condition which, for simplicity, I won't define here), for every $f \in B^*$, the $\mathbb{R}$-valued random variable $f(X)$ is Gaussian. This is a natural infinite-dimensional extension of the characterization suggested in Michael Hardy's first comment.</p> <p>An important point here is that in infinite dimensions this gives a way to talk about <em>a</em> Gaussian distribution, but there is no longer any notion of the <em>standard</em> Gaussian distribution.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/59748/what-structure-is-needed-to-define-a-gaussian-distribution-on-a-given-space/59847#59847 Answer by Tom LaGatta for What structure is needed to define a Gaussian distribution on a given space? Tom LaGatta 2011-03-28T15:32:08Z 2011-03-28T15:32:08Z <p>Let $X$ be a Banach space with its Borel $\sigma$-algebra $\mathcal B(X)$, and let $\mathbb P$ be a Radon measure on $X$. The continuous linear functionals on $X$ are measurable functions, hence random variables. Let's assume that for all $f \in X^*$, $$\mathbb E|f|^2 = \int_X |f(x)|^2 \ \mathrm{d}\mathbb P(x) &lt; \infty.$$ This assumption implies a powerful structure theorem (cf. Theorem III.2.1 of [1]):</p> <p><b>Theorem.</b> There exists an element $\mu \in X$ (the mean element) and a continuous, symmetric operator $K : X^* \to X$ (the covariance operator) such that for all $f, g \in X^*$, $$f(\mu) = \mathbb E f \qquad \mathrm{and} \qquad f(Kg) = \mathbb E(fg) - f(\mu)g(\mu).$$</p> <p>Furthermore, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Support_(measure_theory)" rel="nofollow">support</a> of the measure $\mathbb P$ is contained in the affine subspace spanned by the mean and covariance operator: $$\operatorname{supp} \mathbb P \subseteq \mu + \overline{KX^*},$$ and this space is separable.</p> <p>As Mark Meckes said, we say that the measure $\mathbb P$ is Gaussian if each <code>$f \in X^*$</code> is a real-valued Gaussian random variable (hence with mean $f(\mu)$ and variance $f(Kf)$. In this case, the support is the full affine subspace <code>$\mu + \overline{KX^*}$</code>. Furthermore, the measure is completely characterized by its characteristic functional <code>$\varphi : X^* \to \mathbb R$</code>: <code>$$\varphi(f) = \int_X \mathrm e^{\mathrm i f(x)} \ \mathrm d\mathbb P(x) = \mathrm e^{\mathrm i f(\mu) - f(Kf)/2}.$$</code></p> <p>For more on this topic, I suggest the reference:</p> <p>[1] <em>Probability Distributions on Banach Spaces</em> by Vakhania, Tarieladze and Chobanyan. </p>