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In this paper, we introduce a novel independent component analysis (ICA) algorithm, which is truly blind to the particular underlying distribution of the mixed signals. Using a nonparametric kernel density estimation technique, the algorithm performs simultaneously the estimation of the unknown probability density functions of the source signals and the estimation of the unmixing matrix. Following the proposed approach, the blind signal separation framework can be posed as a nonlinear optimization problem, where a closed form expression of the cost function is available, and only the elements of the unmixing matrix appear as unknowns. We conducted a series of Monte Carlo simulations, involving linear mixtures of various source signals with different statistical characteristics and sample sizes. The new algorithm not only consistently outperformed all state-of-the-art ICA methods, but also demonstrated the following properties: 1) Only a flexible model, capable of learning the source statistics, can consistently achieve an accurate separation of all the mixed signals. 2) Adopting a suitably designed optimization framework, it is possible to derive a flexible ICA algorithm that matches the stability and convergence properties of conventional algorithms. 3) A nonparametric approach does not necessarily require large sample sizes in order to outperform methods with fixed or partially adaptive contrast functions.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2004