This paper proposes a geometric estimator of dependency between a pair of multivariate random variables. The proposed estimator of dependency is based on a randomly permuted geometric graph (the minimal spanning tree) over the two multivariate samples. This estimator converges to a quantity that we call the geometric mutual information (GMI), which is equivalent to the Henze-Penrose divergence. between the joint distribution of the multivariate samples and the product of the marginals. The GMI has many of the same properties as standard MI but can be estimated from empirical data without density estimation; making it scalable to large datasets. The proposed empirical estimator of GMI is simple to implement, involving the construction of an minimal spanning tree (MST) spanning over both the original data and a randomly permuted version of this data. We establish asymptotic convergence of the estimator and convergence rates of the bias and variance for smooth multivariate density functions belonging to a Hölder class. We demonstrate the advantages of our proposed geometric dependency estimator in a series of experiments.
Keywords: Friedman–Rafsky test statistic; Henze–Penrose mutual information; bias and variance tradeoff; convergence rates; geometric mutual information; minimal spanning trees; optimization.