How many parameters do we need to learn for a k-Gaussian mixture model, where all mixtures have the same spherical radius?


In general a mixture model with $M$ components is defined by

$$f(x)=\sum_{m=1}^{M} \alpha_m \phi(x;\mu_m;\Sigma_m)$$

with $M$ the number of components in the mixture, $\alpha_m$ the mixture weight of the $m$-th component and $\phi(x;\mu_m;\Sigma_m)$ being the Gaussian density function with mean $\mu_m$ and covariance matrix $\Sigma_m$.

As such we usually have the parameters of $M$ uni-/multivariate normal distributions to learn, those are the mean and (co-)variance of each component. For the univariate case this gives us $2\times M$ parameters for the components, if the variance is known it reduces to $M$.
As @gunes correctly noted in his comment, in a multivariate setting with $D$ dimensions it requires $D$ values in the mean vector and $D(D+1)/2$ entries in the covariance matrix.

On top of this the $M$ mixture weights $\alpha_1 \cdots \alpha_M$ need to be determined. Since these sum to one, it is sufficient to determine $M-1$ weights.


  • Univariate: $2\times M + M-1$ parameters
  • Multivariate: $MD + M(D(D+1)/2) + M-1$ parameters

Known variance:

  • Univariate: $2M-1$ parameters
  • Multivariate: $MD+M-1$ parameters
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A few additions to your answer: Knowing $M-1$ weights is enough, and the general case should consider the dimension for number of parameters, i.e. for the covariance we need $n(n+1)/2$ terms, and for the mean we need $n$ terms. $\endgroup$ – gunes Nov 15 '19 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, I'll edit the answer accordingly $\endgroup$ – deemel Nov 15 '19 at 7:10

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