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Renata Turkeš: Practical implications of stability theorems for persistent homology

Time: Tue 2022-10-11 10.15

Location: 3721, Lindstedtsvägen 25, and Zoom

Video link: Meeting ID: 621 8808 6001

Participating: Renata Turkeš (University of Antwerp)

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Topological data analysis is a recent and fast growing field that approaches the analysis of datasets using techniques from (algebraic) topology. Its main tool, persistent homology (PH), has seen a notable increase in applications in the last decade. Often cited as the most favourable property of PH and the main reason for practical success are the stability theorems that give theoretical results about noise robustness, since real data is typically contaminated with noise or measurement errors. However, little attention has been paid to what these stability theorems mean in practice. To gain some insight into this question, we evaluate the noise robustness of PH on the MNIST dataset of greyscale images. More precisely, we investigate to what extent PH changes under typical forms of image noise, and quantify the loss of performance in classifying the MNIST handwritten digits when noise is added to the data. The results show that the sensitivity to noise of PH is influenced by the choice of filtrations and persistence signatures (respectively the input and output of PH), and in particular, that PH features are often not robust to noise in a classification task.