CORDIS - EU research results

Spectral and Optimization Techniques for Robust Recovery, Combinatorial Constructions, and Distributed Algorithms

Project description

Making sense of complex data and relationships

Models are integral to advancing our understanding of the world around us. Once we have developed them, we can change parameters to test hypotheses and evaluate potential outcomes. Model construction, though, is partially based on observations from which we extract certain 'rules' or behaviours, mathematical descriptions of relationships that form the algorithms of the models themselves. Recovering the 'structure' of data can be a very complicated task. The EU-funded SO-ReCoDi project will develop robust recovery algorithms applicable to several challenging problems through a unification of multiple advanced techniques.


In a recovery problem, we are interested in recovering structure from data that contains a mix of combinatorial structure and random noise. In a robust recovery problem, the data may contain adversarial perturbations as well. A series of recent results in theoretical computer science has led to algorithms based on the convex optimization technique of Semidefinite Programming for several recovery problems motivated by unsupervised machine learning. Can those algorithms be made robust? Sparsifiers are compressed representations of graphs that speed up certain algorithms. The recent proof of the Kadison-Singer conjecture by Marcus, Spielman and Srivastava (MSS) shows that certain kinds of sparsifiers exist, but the proof does not provide an explicit construction. Dynamics and population protocols are simple models of distributed computing that were introduced to study sensor networks and other lightweight distributed systems, and have also been used to model naturally occurring networks. What can and cannot be computed in such models is largely open. We propose an ambitious unifying approach to go beyond the state of the art in these three domains, and provide: robust recovery algorithms for the problems mentioned above; a new connection between sparsifiers and the Szemeredi Regularity Lemma and explicit constructions of the sparsifiers resulting from the MSS work; and an understanding of the ability of simple distributed algorithms to solve community detection problems and to deal with noise and faults. The unification is provided by a common underpinning of spectral methods, random matrix theory, and convex optimization. Such tools are used in technically similar but conceptually very different ways in the three domains. By pursuing these goals together, we will make it more likely that an idea that is natural and simple in one context will translate to an idea that is deep and unexpected in another, increasing the chances of a breakthrough.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 971 805,00
20136 Milano

See on map

Nord-Ovest Lombardia Milano
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 971 805,00

Beneficiaries (1)