Seminar Details

Seminar Details


Wednesday

Feb 27

3:30 pm

The Convex Geometry of Inverse Problems

Ben Recht

Seminar

University of Wisconsin - Computer Science Department

Deducing the state or structure of a system from partial, noisy measurements is a fundamental task throughout the sciences and engineering. The resulting inverse problems are often ill-posed because there are fewer measurements available than the ambient dimension of the model to be estimated. In practice, however, many interesting signals or models contain few degrees of freedom relative to their ambient dimension. For example, a small number of genes may constitute the signature of a disease, very few parameters may specify the correlation structure of a time series, or a sparse collection of geometric constraints may determine a network configuration. Discovering, leveraging, or recognizing such low-dimensional structure plays an important role in making inverse problems well-posed.In this talk, I will propose a unified approach to transform notions of simplicity and latent low-dimensionality into convex penalty functions. This approach builds on the success of generalizing compressed sensing to matrix completion and greatly extends the catalog of objects and structures that can be recovered from partial information. I will focus on a suite of data analysis algorithms designed to decompose general signals into sums of atoms from a simple---but not necessarily discrete---set. These algorithms are derived in an optimization framework that encompasses previous methods based on l1-norm minimization and nuclear norm minimization for recovering sparse vectors and low-rank matrices. I will provide sharp estimates of the number of generic measurements required for exact and robust estimation of a variety of structured models. I will contextualize these results in several example applications.

Bio: Benjamin Recht is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds courtesy appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, and Statistics. He is a PI in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID), a newly founded center for research at the convergence of information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Ben received his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago, and received a M.S. and PhD from the MIT Media Laboratory. After completing his doctoral work, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Mathematics of Information at Caltech. He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the 2012 SIAM/MOS Lagrange Prize in Continuous Optimization.