# Von Mises–Fisher distribution

(Redirected from Von Mises-Fisher distribution)
Points sampled from three von Mises-Fisher distributions on the sphere (blue: $\kappa=1$, green: $\kappa=10$, red: $\kappa=100$). The mean directions $\mu$ are shown with arrows.

In directional statistics, the von Mises–Fisher distribution is a probability distribution on the $(p-1)$-dimensional sphere in $\mathbb{R}^{p}$. If $p=2$ the distribution reduces to the von Mises distribution on the circle.

The probability density function of the von Mises-Fisher distribution for the random p-dimensional unit vector $\mathbf{x}\,$ is given by:

$f_{p}(\mathbf{x}; \mu, \kappa)=C_{p}(\kappa)\exp \left( {\kappa \mu^T \mathbf{x} } \right)$

where $\kappa \ge 0, \left \Vert \mu \right \Vert =1 \,$ and the normalization constant $C_{p}(\kappa)\,$ is equal to

$C_{p}(\kappa)=\frac {\kappa^{p/2-1}} {(2\pi)^{p/2}I_{p/2-1}(\kappa)}. \,$

where $I_{v}$ denotes the modified Bessel function of the first kind and order $v$. If $p=3$, the normalization constant reduces to

$C_{3}(\kappa)=\frac {\kappa} {4\pi\sinh \kappa}=\frac {\kappa} {2\pi(e^{\kappa}-e^{-\kappa})}. \,$

Note that the equations above apply for polar coordinates only.

The parameters $\mu\,$ and $\kappa\,$ are called the mean direction and concentration parameter, respectively. The greater the value of $\kappa\,$, the higher the concentration of the distribution around the mean direction $\mu\,$. The distribution is unimodal for $\kappa>0\,$, and is uniform on the sphere for $\kappa=0\,$.

The von Mises-Fisher distribution for $p=3$, also called the Fisher distribution, was first used to model the interaction of dipoles in an electric field (Mardia, 2000). Other applications are found in geology, bioinformatics, and text mining.

## Estimation of parameters

A series of N independent measurements $x_i$ are drawn from a von Mises-Fisher distribution. Define

$A_{p}(\kappa)=\frac {I_{p/2}(\kappa)} {I_{p/2-1}(\kappa)} . \,$

Then (Sra, 2011) the maximum likelihood estimates of $\mu\,$ and $\kappa\,$ are given by

$\mu = \frac{\sum_i^N x_i}{\|\sum_i^N x_i\|} ,$
$\kappa = A_p^{-1}(\bar{R}) .$

Thus $\kappa\,$ is the solution to

$A_p(\kappa) = \frac{\|\sum_i^N x_i\|}{N} = \bar{R} .$

A simple approximation to $\kappa$ is

$\hat{\kappa} = \frac{\bar{R}(p-\bar{R}^2)}{1-\bar{R}^2} ,$

but a more accurate measure can be obtained by iterating the Newton method a few times

$\hat{\kappa}_1 = \hat{\kappa} - \frac{A_p(\hat{\kappa})-\bar{R}}{1-A_p(\hat{\kappa})^2-\frac{p-1}{\hat{\kappa}}A_p(\hat{\kappa})} ,$
$\hat{\kappa}_2 = \hat{\kappa}_1 - \frac{A_p(\hat{\kappa}_1)-\bar{R}}{1-A_p(\hat{\kappa}_1)^2-\frac{p-1}{\hat{\kappa}_1}A_p(\hat{\kappa}_1)} .$

For N ≥ 25, the estimated spherical standard error of the sample mean direction can be computed as[1]

$\hat{\sigma} = \left(\frac{d}{N\bar{R}^2}\right)^{1/2}$

where

$d = 1 - \frac{1}{N}\sum_i^N (\mu^Tx_i)^2$

It's then possible to approximate a $100(1-\alpha)%$ confidence cone about $\mu$ with semi-vertical angle

$q = \arcsin(e_\alpha^{1/2}\hat{\sigma}) ,$ where $e_\alpha = -\ln(\alpha).$

For example, for a 95% confidence cone, $\alpha = 0.05, e_\alpha = -\ln(0.05) = 2.996,$ and thus $q = \arcsin(1.731\hat{\sigma}).$