From Geometry to Topology: Inverse Theorems for Distributed Persistence

Authors Elchanan Solomon , Alexander Wagner , Paul Bendich

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Author Details

Elchanan Solomon
  • Department of Mathematics, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Alexander Wagner
  • Department of Mathematics, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Paul Bendich
  • Department of Mathematics, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • Geometric Data Analytics, Inc., Durham, NC, USA

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Elchanan Solomon, Alexander Wagner, and Paul Bendich. From Geometry to Topology: Inverse Theorems for Distributed Persistence. In 38th International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 224, pp. 61:1-61:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


What is the "right" topological invariant of a large point cloud X? Prior research has focused on estimating the full persistence diagram of X, a quantity that is very expensive to compute, unstable to outliers, and far from injective. We therefore propose that, in many cases, the collection of persistence diagrams of many small subsets of X is a better invariant. This invariant, which we call "distributed persistence," is perfectly parallelizable, more stable to outliers, and has a rich inverse theory. The map from the space of metric spaces (with the quasi-isometry distance) to the space of distributed persistence invariants (with the Hausdorff-Bottleneck distance) is globally bi-Lipschitz. This is a much stronger property than simply being injective, as it implies that the inverse image of a small neighborhood is a small neighborhood, and is to our knowledge the only result of its kind in the TDA literature. Moreover, the inverse Lipschitz constant depends on the size of the subsets taken, so that as the size of these subsets goes from small to large, the invariant interpolates between a purely geometric one and a topological one. Lastly, we note that our inverse results do not actually require considering all subsets of a fixed size (an enormous collection), but a relatively small collection satisfying simple covering properties. These theoretical results are complemented by synthetic experiments demonstrating the use of distributed persistence in practice.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Algebraic topology
  • Applied Topology
  • Persistent Homology
  • Inverse Problems
  • Subsampling


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