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Section: Research Program

Robust algebraic-geometric computation

In many problems, digital data are approximated and cannot just be used as if they were exact. In the context of geometric modeling, polynomial equations appear naturally, as a way to describe constraints between the unknown variables of a problem. An important challenge is to take into account the input error in order to develop robust methods for solving these algebraic constraints. Robustness means that a small perturbation of the input should produce a controlled variation of the output, that is forward stability, when the input-output map is regular. In non-regular cases, robustness also means that the output is an exact solution, or the most coherent solution, of a problem with input data in a given neighborhood, that is backward stability.

Our second long term objective is to develop methods to robustly and efficiently solve algebraic problems that occur in geometric modeling.

Robustness is a major issue in geometric modeling and algebraic computation. Classical methods in computer algebra, based on the paradigm of exact computation, cannot be applied directly in this context. They are not designed for stability against input perturbations. New investigations are needed to develop methods, which integrate this additional dimension of the problem. Several approaches are investigated to tackle these difficulties.

One relies on linearization of algebraic problems based on “elimination of variables” or projection into a space of smaller dimension. Resultant theory provides strong foundation for these methods, connecting the geometric properties of the solutions with explicit linear algebra on polynomial vector spaces, for families of polynomial systems (e.g., homogeneous, multi-homogeneous, sparse). Important progresses have been made in the last two decades to extend this theory to new families of problems with specific geometric properties. Additional advances have been achieved more recently to exploit the syzygies between the input equations. This approach provides matrix based representations, which are particularly powerful for approximate geometric computation on parametrized curves and surfaces. They are tuned to certain classes of problems and an important issue is to detect and analyze degeneracies and to adapt them to these cases.

A more adaptive approach involves linear algebra computation in a hierarchy of polynomial vector spaces. It produces a description of quotient algebra structures, from which the solutions of polynomial systems can be recovered. This family of methods includes Gröbner Basis, which provides general tools for solving polynomial equations. Border Basis is an alternative approach, offering numerically stable methods for solving polynomial equations with approximate coefficients. An important issue is to understand and control the numerical behavior of these methods as well as their complexity and to exploit the structure of the input system.

In order to compute “only” the (real) solutions of a polynomial system in a given domain, duality techniques can also be employed. They consist in analyzing and adding constraints on the space of linear forms which vanish on the polynomial equations. Combined with semi-definite programming techniques, they provide efficient methods to compute the real solutions of algebraic equations or to solve polynomial optimization problems. The main issues are the completness of the approach, their scalability with the degree and dimension and the certification of bounds.

Singular solutions of polynomial systems can be analyzed by computing differentials, which vanish at these points. This leads to efficient deflation techniques, which transform a singular solution of a given problem into a regular solution of the transformed problem. These local methods need to be combined with more global root localisation methods.

Subdivision methods are another type of methods which are interesting for robust geometric computation. They are based on exclusion tests which certify that no solution exists in a domain and inclusion tests, which certify the uniqueness of a solution in a domain. They have shown their strength in addressing many algebraic problems, such as isolating real roots of polynomial equations or computing the topology of algebraic curves and surfaces. The main issues in these approaches is to deal with singularities and degenerate solutions.