Minimax Learning of Ergodic Markov Chains. Academic Article uri icon


  • We compute the finite-sample minimax (modulo logarithmic factors) sample complexity of learning the parameters of a finite Markov chain from a single long sequence of states. Our error metric is a natural variant of total variation. The sample complexity necessarily depends on the spectral gap and minimal stationary probability of the unknown chain - for which, at least in the reversible case, there are known finite-sample estimators with fully empirical confidence intervals. To our knowledge, this is the first PAC-type result with nearly matching (up to logs) upper and lower bounds for learning, in any metric in the context of Markov chains.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018