I have developed a simple Kernel Density Estimator in Java, based on a few dozen points (maybe up to one hundred or so) and a Gaussian kernel function. The implementation gives me the PDF and CDF of my probability distribution at any point.

I would now like to implement a simple sampling method for this KDE. An obvious choice would of course be to draw from the very set of points making up the KDE, but I would like to be able to retrieve points that are slightly different from the ones in the KDE.

I haven't found so far a sampling technique that I could easily implement to solve this problem (without depending on external libraries for numerical integration or complex computations). Any advices? I don't have specially strong requirements when it comes to precision or efficiency, my main concern is to have a sampling function that works and can be easily implemented. Thanks!

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is detailed in page 5 of this document. $\endgroup$
    – user10525
    Nov 15, 2012 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ thanks, that was useful! And simpler than I thought ;-) $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2012 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @user10525 the code provided is incorrect, it should be: rnorm(n, sample(dx$x, n, prob = dx$y, replace = TRUE), dx$bw) where dx is output from density function. Argument prob has to be provided because otherwise you sample uniformly. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Dec 22, 2015 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


As mentioned by Procrastinator, there's a simple way to sample from a Kernel density estimator:

  1. Draw one point $x_i$ from the set of points $x_1$,...$x_n$ included in the KDE
  2. Once you have the point $x_i$, draw a value from the kernel associated with the point. In this case, draw from the Gaussian $\mathcal{N}(x_i,h)$ centered at $x_i$ and of variance $h$ (the bandwidth)
  • $\begingroup$ (+1) For sharing your solution. $\endgroup$
    – user10525
    Nov 19, 2012 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ Is $x_i$ one of the original points? If so, looks like we don't really need to construct the actual KDE at all. Just sampling from one of the original points, and $N (x_i,h)$ should suffice? $\endgroup$
    – Ram
    Apr 8, 2013 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes indeed, if you are only using the KDE distribution for sampling, you do not need to explicitly construct the PDF: the only information necessary for the sampling operation is the set of points and the bandwidth. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2013 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ just to add to Pierre Lison: In step 2.: For sampling from a Gaussian kernel, the bandwidth h should be taken as the standard deviation of the Gaussian distribution around the point x_i, not the variance. $\endgroup$
    – user98904
    Dec 22, 2015 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't you want to sample using standard deviation 1/h or something? As written, the less likely x_i is, the more likely you are to sample another unlikely point nearby because the standard deviation of N is low. $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Jul 3, 2019 at 21:24

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