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Abstract:A general, {\em rectangular} kernel matrix may be defined as $K_{ij} = \kappa(x_i,y_j)$ where $\kappa(x,y)$ is a kernel function and where $X=\{x_i\}_{i=1}^m$ and $Y=\{y_i\}_{i=1}^n$ are two sets of points. In this paper, we seek a low-rank approximation to a kernel matrix where the sets of points $X$ and $Y$ are large and are not well-separated (e.g., the points in $X$ and $Y$ may be ``intermingled''). Such rectangular kernel matrices may arise, for example, in Gaussian process regression where $X$ corresponds to the training data and $Y$ corresponds to the test data. In this case, the points are often high-dimensional. Since the point sets are large, we must exploit the fact that the matrix arises from a kernel function, and avoid forming the matrix, and thus ruling out most algebraic techniques. In particular, we seek methods that can scale linearly, i.e., with computational complexity $O(m)$ or $O(n)$ for a fixed accuracy or rank. The main idea in this paper is to {\em geometrically} select appropriate subsets of points to construct a low rank approximation. An analysis in this paper guides how this selection should be performed.