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Exploiting geometry, topology, and optimization for knowledge discovery in big data




Ziegelmeier, Lori Beth, author
Kirby, Michael, advisor
Peterson, Chris, advisor
Liu, Jiangguo (James), committee member
Draper, Bruce, committee member

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In this dissertation, we consider several topics that are united by the theme of topological and geometric data analysis. First, we consider an application in landscape ecology using a well-known vector quantization algorithm to characterize and segment the color content of natural imagery. Color information in an image may be viewed naturally as clusters of pixels with similar attributes. The inherent structure and distribution of these clusters serves to quantize the information in the image and provides a basis for classification. A friendly graphical user interface called Biological Landscape Organizer and Semi-supervised Segmenting Machine (BLOSSM) was developed to aid in this classification. We consider four different choices for color space and five different metrics in which to analyze our data, and results are compared. Second, we present a novel topologically driven clustering algorithm that blends Locally Linear Embedding (LLE) and vector quantization by mapping color information to a lower dimensional space, identifying distinct color regions, and classifying pixels together based on both a proximity measure and color content. It is observed that these techniques permit a significant reduction in color resolution while maintaining the visually important features of images. Third, we develop a novel algorithm which we call Sparse LLE that leads to sparse representations in local reconstructions by using a data weighted 1-norm regularization term in the objective function of an optimization problem. It is observed that this new formulation has proven effective at automatically determining an appropriate number of nearest neighbors for each data point. We explore various optimization techniques, namely Primal Dual Interior Point algorithms, to solve this problem, comparing the computational complexity for each. Fourth, we present a novel algorithm that can be used to determine the boundary of a data set, or the vertices of a convex hull encasing a point cloud of data, in any dimension by solving a quadratic optimization problem. In this problem, each point is written as a linear combination of its nearest neighbors where the coefficients of this linear combination are penalized if they do not construct a convex combination, revealing those points that cannot be represented in this way, the vertices of the convex hull containing the data. Finally, we exploit the relatively new tool from topological data analysis, persistent homology, and consider the use of vector bundles to re-embed data in order to improve the topological signal of a data set by embedding points sampled from a projective variety into successive Grassmannians.


2013 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
Zip file contains supplementary videos.

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Convex Hull
dimensionality reduction


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