The Optimality of Jeffreys Prior for Online Density Estimation and the Asymptotic Normality of Maximum Likelihood Estimators
Fares Hedayati and Peter L. Bartlett JMLR W&CP 23: 7.1 - 7.13, 2012
We study online learning under logarithmic loss with regular parametric models. We show that a Bayesian strategy predicts optimally only if it uses Jeffreys prior. This result was known for canonical exponential families; we extend it to parametric models for which the maximum likelihood estimator is asymptotically normal. The optimal prediction strategy, normalized maximum likelihood, depends on the number n of rounds of the game, in general. However, when a Bayesian strategy is optimal, normalized maximum likelihood becomes independent of n. Our proof uses this to exploit the asymptotics of normalized maximum likelihood. The asymptotic normality of the maximum likelihood estimator is responsible for the necessity of Jeffreys prior.