Group Symmetric Robust Covariance Estimation
In this paper, we consider Tyler's robust covariance M-estimator under group symmetry constraints. We assume that the covariance matrix is invariant to the conjugation action of a unitary matrix group, referred to as group symmetry. Examples of group symmetric structures include circulant, perHermitian, and proper quaternion matrices. We introduce a group symmetric version of Tyler's estimator (STyler) and provide an iterative fixed point algorithm to compute it. The classical results claim that at least n=p+1 sample points in general position are necessary to ensure the existence and uniqueness of Tyler's estimator, where p is the ambient dimension. We show that the STyler requires significantly less samples. In some groups, even two samples are enough to guarantee its existence and uniqueness. In addition, in the case of elliptical populations, we provide high probability bounds on the error of the STyler. These, too, quantify the advantage of exploiting the symmetry structure. Finally, these theoretical results are supported by numerical simulations.