Can’t Invert the CDF? The Triangle-Cut Parameterization of the Region under the Curve

Eric Heitz

EGSR 2020


We present an exact, analytic and deterministic method for sampling densities whose Cumulative Distribution Functions (CDFs) cannot be inverted analytically. Indeed, the inverse-CDF method is often considered the way to go for sampling non-uniform densities. If the CDF is not analytically invertible, the typical fallback solutions are either approximate, numerical, or nondeterministic such as acceptance-rejection. To overcome this problem, we show how to compute an analytic area-preserving parameterization of the region under the curve of the target density. We use it to generate random points uniformly distributed under the curve of the target density and their abscissae are thus distributed with the target density. Technically, our idea is to use an approximate analytic parameterization whose error can be represented geometrically as a triangle that is simple to cut out. This triangle-cut parameterization yields exact and analytic solutions to sampling problems that were presumably not analytically resolvable.