Rong Tang, Yun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Statistical inference from high-dimensional data with low-dimensional structures has recently attracted a lot of attention. In machine learning, deep generative modelling approaches implicitly estimate distributions of complex objects by creating new samples from the underlying distribution, and have achieved great success in generating synthetic realistic-looking images and texts. A key step in these approaches is the extraction of latent features or representations (encoding) that can be used for accurately reconstructing the original data (decoding). In other words, low-dimensional manifold structure is implicitly assumed and utilized in the distribution modelling and estimation. To understand the benefit of low-dimensional manifold structure in generative modelling, we build a general minimax framework for distribution estimation on unknown submanifold under adversarial losses, with suitable smoothness assumptions on the target distribution and the manifold. The established minimax rate elucidates how various problem characteristics, including intrinsic dimensionality of the data and smoothness levels of the target distribution and the manifold, affect the fundamental limit of high-dimensional distribution estimation. To prove the minimax upper bound, we construct an estimator based on a mixture of locally fitted generative models, which is motivated by the partition of unity technique from differential geometry and is necessary to cover cases where the underlying data manifold does not admit a global parametrization. We also propose a data-driven adaptive estimator that is shown to simultaneously attain within a logarithmic factor of the optimal rate over a large collection of distribution classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1282-1308
Number of pages27
JournalAnnals of Statistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Adversarial training
  • distribution estimation
  • generative model
  • manifold
  • minimax rate
  • partition of unity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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