This talk on Metric embeddings and dimensionality reduction was held on Friday March 31, 2017 in MC 4045. The talk was given by Frieda Rong.


In this talk, we consider embeddings which preserve the pairwise distances of a set of points. It is often useful to find mappings from one high dimensional space to a lower dimensional space that preserve the geometry of the points. One source of applications is in streaming large amounts of data, for which storage is costly and/or impractical. However, the study of such embeddings has also inspired developments in the design of approximation algorithms and compressed sensing.

At the crux of the talk is the remarkable Johnson-Lindenstrauss lemma. This fundamental result shows that for Euclidean spaces, it is possible to achieve significant dimensionality reduction of a set of points while approximately preserving the pairwise distances. An elementary proof will be given, along with subsequent speed improvements with sparse projections and an interesting use of the Fourier transform. We will also discuss applications of the lemma to the fields mentioned above.