Section: New Results

Sparse Representations, Inverse Problems, and Dimension Reduction

Sparsity, low-rank, dimension-reduction, inverse problem, sparse recovery, scalability, compressive sensing

The team's activity ranges from theoretical results to algorithmic design and software contributions in the fields of sparse representations, inverse problems, and dimension reduction.

Computational Representation Learning: Algorithms and Theory

Participants : Rémi Gribonval, Hakim Hadj Djilani, Cássio Fraga Dantas, Jeremy Cohen.

Main collaborations: Luc Le Magoarou (IRT b-com, Rennes), Nicolas Tremblay (GIPSA-Lab, Grenoble), R. R. Lopes and M. N. Da Costa (DSPCom, Univ. Campinas, Brazil)

An important practical problem in sparse modeling is to choose the adequate dictionary to model a class of signals or images of interest. While diverse heuristic techniques have been proposed in the literature to learn a dictionary from a collection of training samples, classical dictionary learning is limited to small-scale problems.

Multilayer sparse matrix products for faster computations. Inspired by usual fast transforms, we proposed a general dictionary structure (called FAμST for Flexible Approximate Multilayer Sparse Transforms) that allows cheaper manipulation, and an algorithm to learn such dictionaries together with their fast implementation, with reduced sample complexity. Besides the principle and its application to image denoising [105], we demonstrated the potential of the approach to speedup linear inverse problems [104], and a comprehensive journal paper was published in 2016 [107]. Pioneering identifiability results have been obtained in the Ph.D. thesis of Luc Le Magoarou [108].

We further explored the application of this technique to obtain fast approximations of Graph Fourier Transforms [106], and studied their approximation error [109]. In a journal paper published this year [16] we empirically show that 𝒪(nlogn) approximate implementations of Graph Fourier Transforms are possible for certain families of graphs. This opens the way to substantial accelerations for Fourier Transforms on large graphs.

The FAμST software library (see Section 6) was first released as Matlab code primarily for reproducibility of the experiments of [107]. A C++ version is being developed to provide transparent interfaces of FAμST data-structures with both Matlab and Python.

Kronecker product structure for faster computations. In parallel to the development of FAuST, we have proposed another approach to structured dictionary learning that also aims at speeding up both sparse coding and dictionary learning. We used the fact that for tensor data, a natural set of linear operators are those that operate on each dimension separately, which correspond to rank-one multilinear operators. These rank-one operators may be cast as the Kronecker product of several small matrices. Such operators require less memory and are computationally attractive, in particular for performing efficient matrix-matrix and matrix-vector operations. In our proposed approach, dictionaries are constrained to belong to the set of low-rank multilinear operators, that consist of the sum of a few rank-one operators. A special case of the proposed structure is the widespread separable dictionary, named SuKro, which was evaluated experimentally last year on an image denoising application [81]. The general approach, coined HOSUKRO for High Order Sum of Kronecker products, has been shown this year to reduce empirically the sample complexity of dictionary learning, as well as theoretical complexity of both the learning and the sparse coding operations [27].

Combining faster matrix-vector products with screening techniques. We combined accelerated matrix-vector multiplications offered by FAμST / HOSUKRO matrix approximations with dynamic screening [57], that safely eliminates inactive variables to speedup iterative convex sparse recovery algorithms. First, we showed how to obtain safe screening rules for the exact problem while manipulating an approximate dictionary [80]. We then adapted an existing screening rule to this new framework and define a general procedure to leverage the advantages of both strategies. This year we completed a comprehensive preprint submitted for publication in a journal [49] that includes new techniques based on duality gaps to optimally switch from a coarse dictionary approximation to a finer one. Significant complexity reductions were obtained in comparison to screening rules alone [28].

Generalized matrix inverses and the sparse pseudo-inverse

Participant : Rémi Gribonval.

Main collaboration: Ivan Dokmanic (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA)

We studied linear generalized inverses that minimize matrix norms. Such generalized inverses are famously represented by the Moore-Penrose pseudoinverse (MPP) which happens to minimize the Frobenius norm. Freeing up the degrees of freedom associated with Frobenius optimality enables us to promote other interesting properties. In a first part of this work [76], we looked at the basic properties of norm-minimizing generalized inverses, especially in terms of uniqueness and relation to the MPP. We first showed that the MPP minimizes many norms beyond those unitarily invariant, thus further bolstering its role as a robust choice in many situations. We then concentrated on some norms which are generally not minimized by the MPP, but whose minimization is relevant for linear inverse problems and sparse representations. In particular, we looked at mixed norms and the induced pq norms.

An interesting representative is the sparse pseudoinverse which we studied in much more detail in a second part of this work [77], motivated by the idea to replace the Moore-Penrose pseudoinverse by a sparser generalized inverse which is in some sense well-behaved. Sparsity implies that it is faster to apply the resulting matrix; well-behavedness would imply that we do not lose much in stability with respect to the least-squares performance of the MPP. We first addressed questions of uniqueness and non-zero count of (putative) sparse pseudoinverses. We showed that a sparse pseudoinverse is generically unique, and that it indeed reaches optimal sparsity for almost all matrices. We then turned to proving a stability result: finite-size concentration bounds for the Frobenius norm of p-minimal inverses for 1p2. Our proof is based on tools from convex analysis and random matrix theory, in particular the recently developed convex Gaussian min-max theorem. Along the way we proved several results about sparse representations and convex programming that were known folklore, but of which we could find no proof. This year, a condensed version of these results has been prepared which is now accepted for publication [14].

Algorithmic exploration of large-scale Compressive Learning via Sketching

Participants : Rémi Gribonval, Antoine Chatalic, Antoine Deleforge.

Main collaborations: Patrick Perez (Technicolor R&I France, Rennes), Anthony Bourrier (formerly Technicolor R&I France, Rennes; then GIPSA-Lab, Grenoble), Antoine Liutkus (ZENITH Inria project-team, Montpellier), Nicolas Keriven (ENS Paris), Nicolas Tremblay (GIPSA-Lab, Grenoble), Phil Schniter & Evan Byrne (Ohio State University, USA), Laurent Jacques & Vincent Schellekens (Univ Louvain, Belgium), Florimond Houssiau & Y.-A. de Montjoye (Imperial College London, UK)

Sketching for Large-Scale Mixture Estimation. When fitting a probability model to voluminous data, memory and computational time can become prohibitive. We proposed during the Ph.D. thesis of Anthony Bourrier [58], [61], [59], [60] to fit a mixture of isotropic Gaussians to data vectors by computing a low-dimensional sketch of the data. The sketch represents empirical generalized moments of the underlying probability distribution. Deriving a reconstruction algorithm by analogy with compressive sensing, we experimentally showed that it is possible to precisely estimate the mixture parameters provided that the sketch is large enough. The Ph.D. thesis of Nicolas Keriven [97] consolidated extensions to non-isotropic Gaussians, with a new algorithm called CL-OMP [96] and large-scale experiments demonstrating its potential for speaker verification [95]. A journal paper was published this year [15], with an associated toolbox for reproducible research (see SketchMLBox, Section 6).

Sketching for Compressive Clustering and beyond. In 2016 we started a new endeavor to extend the sketched learning approach beyond Gaussian Mixture Estimation.

First, we showed empirically that sketching can be adapted to compress a training collection while allowing large-scale clustering. The approach, called “Compressive K-means”, uses CL-OMP at the learning stage [98]. This year, we showed that in the high-dimensional setting one can substantially speedup both the sketching stage and the learning stage by replacing Gaussian random matrices with fast random linear transforms in the sketching procedure [23].

An alternative to CL-OMP for cluster recovery from a sketch is based on simplified hybrid generalized approximate message passing (SHyGAMP). Numerical experiments suggest that this approach is more efficient than CL-OMP (in both computational and sample complexity) and more efficient than k-means++ in certain regimes [62]. During his first year of Ph.D., Antoine Chatalic visited the group of Phil Schiter to further investigate this topic, and a journal paper is in preparation.

We also demonstrated that sketching can be used in blind source localization and separation, by learning mixtures of alpha-stable distributions [32], see details in Section 7.5.3.

Finally, sketching provides a potentially privacy-preserving data analysis tool, since the sketch does not explicitly disclose information about individual datum. A conference paper establishing theoretical privacy guarantees (with the differential privacy framework) and exploring the utility / privacy tradeoffs of Compressive K-means has been submitted for publication.

Theoretical results on Low-dimensional Representations, Inverse problems, and Dimension Reduction

Participants : Rémi Gribonval, Clément Elvira.

Main collaboration: Mike Davies (University of Edinburgh, UK), Gilles Puy (Technicolor R&I France, Rennes), Yann Traonmilin (Institut Mathématique de Bordeaux), Nicolas Keriven (ENS Paris), Gilles Blanchard (Univ Postdam, Germany), Cédric Herzet (SIMSMART project-team, IRMAR / Inria Rennes), Charles Soussen (Centrale Supelec, Gif-sur-Yvette), Mila Nikolova (CMLA, Cachan)

Inverse problems and compressive sensing in Hilbert spaces.

Many inverse problems in signal processing deal with the robust estimation of unknown data from underdetermined linear observations. Low dimensional models, when combined with appropriate regularizers, have been shown to be efficient at performing this task. Sparse models with the 1-norm or low-rank models with the nuclear norm are examples of such successful combinations. Stable recovery guarantees in these settings have been established using a common tool adapted to each case: the notion of restricted isometry property (RIP). We published a comprehensive paper [20] establishing generic RIP-based guarantees for the stable recovery of cones (positively homogeneous model sets) with arbitrary regularizers. We also described a generic technique to construct linear maps from a Hilbert space to m that satisfy the RIP [121]. These results have been surveyed in a book chapter published this year [46]. In the context of nonlinear inverse problems, we showed that the notion of RIP is still relevant with proper adaptation [42].

Optimal convex regularizers for linear inverse problems. The 1-norm is a good convex regularization for the recovery of sparse vectors from under-determined linear measurements. No other convex regularization seems to surpass its sparse recovery performance. We explored possible explanations for this phenomenon by defining several notions of " best " (convex) regularization in the context of general low-dimensional recovery and showed that indeed the 1-norm is an optimal convex sparse regularization within this framework [43]. A journal paper is in preparation with extensions concerning nuclear norm regularization for low-rank matrix recovery and further structured low-dimensional models.

Information preservation guarantees with low-dimensional sketches. We established a theoretical framework for sketched learning, encompassing statistical learning guarantees as well as dimension reduction guarantees. The framework provides theoretical grounds supporting the experimental success of our algorithmic approaches to compressive K-means, compressive Gaussian Mixture Modeling, as well as compressive Principal Component Analysis (PCA). A comprehensive preprint has been completed is under revision for a journal [88].

Recovery guarantees for algorithms with continuous dictionaries. We established theoretical guarantees on sparse recovery guarantees for a greedy algorithm, orthogonal matching pursuit (OMP), in the context of continuous dictionaries [40], e.g. as appearing in the context of sparse spike deconvolution. Analyses based on discretized dictionary fail to be conclusive when the discretization step tends to zero, as the coherence goes to one. Instead, our analysis is directly conducted in the continuous setting amd exploits specific properties of the positive definite kernel between atom parameters defined by the inner product between the corresponding atoms. For the Laplacian kernel in dimension one, we showed in the noise-free setting that OMP exactly recovers the atom parameters as well as their amplitudes, regardless of the number of distinct atoms [40]. A journal paper is in preparation describing a full class of kernels for which such an analysis holds, in particular for higher dimensional parameters.

On Bayesian estimation and proximity operators. There are two major routes to address the ubiquitous family of inverse problems appearing in signal and image processing, such as denoising or deblurring. The first route is Bayesian modeling: prior probabilities are used to model both the distribution of the unknown variables and their statistical dependence with the observed data, and estimation is expressed as the minimization of an expected loss (e.g. minimum mean squared error, or MMSE). The other route is the variational approach, popularized with sparse regularization and compressive sensing. It consists in designing (often convex) optimization problems involving the sum of a data fidelity term and a penalty term promoting certain types of unknowns (e.g., sparsity, promoted through an L1 norm).

Well known relations between these two approaches have lead to some widely spread misconceptions. In particular, while the so-called Maximum A Posterori (MAP) estimate with a Gaussian noise model does lead to an optimization problem with a quadratic data-fidelity term, we disprove through explicit examples the common belief that the converse would be true. In previous work we showed that for denoising in the presence of additive Gaussian noise, for any prior probability on the unknowns, the MMSE is the solution of a penalized least squares problem, with all the apparent characteristics of a MAP estimation problem with Gaussian noise and a (generally) different prior on the unknowns [89]. In other words, the variational approach is rich enough to build any MMSE estimator associated to additive Gaussian noise via a well chosen penalty.

This year, we achieved generalizations of these results beyond Gaussian denoising and characterized noise models for which the same phenomenon occurs. In particular, we proved that with (a variant of) Poisson noise and any prior probability on the unknowns, MMSE estimation can again be expressed as the solution of a penalized least squares optimization problem. For additive scalar denoising, the phenomenon holds if and only if the noise distribution is log-concave, resulting in the perhaps surprising fact that scalar Laplacian denoising can be expressed as the solution of a penalized least squares problem. [51] Somewhere in the proofs appears an apparently new characterization of proximity operators of (nonconvex) penalties as subdifferentials of convex potentials [50].

Algorithmic Exploration of Sparse Representations for Neurofeedback

Participant : Rémi Gribonval.

Claire Cury, Pierre Maurel & Christian Barillot (VISAGES Inria project-team, Rennes)

In the context of the HEMISFER (Hybrid Eeg-MrI and Simultaneous neuro-feedback for brain Rehabilitation) Comin Labs project (see Section, in collaboration with the VISAGES team, we validated a technique to estimate brain neuronal activity by combining EEG and fMRI modalities in a joint framework exploiting sparsity [118]. This year we focused on directly estimating neuro-feedback scores rather than brain activity. Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) both allow measurement of brain activity for neuro-feedback (NF), respectively with high temporal resolution for EEG and high spatial resolution for fMRI. Using simultaneously fMRI and EEG for NF training is very promising to devise brain rehabilitation protocols, however performing NF-fMRI is costly, exhausting and time consuming, and cannot be repeated too many times for the same subject. We proposed a technique to predict NF scores from EEG recordings only, using a training phase where both EEG and fMRI NF are available. A conference paper has been submitted.

Sparse Representations as Features for Heart Sounds Classification

Participant : Nancy Bertin.

Main collaborations: Roilhi Frajo Ibarra Hernandez, Miguel Alonso Arevalo (CICESE, Ensenada, Mexico)

A heart sound signal or phonocardiogram (PCG) is the most simple, economical and non-invasive tool to detect cardiovascular diseases (CVD), the main cause of death worldwide. During the visit of Roilhi Ibarra, we proposed a pipeline and benchmark for binary heart sounds classification, based on his previous work on a sparse decomposition of the PCG [91]. We improved the feature extraction architecture, by combining features derived from the Gabor atoms selected at the sparse representation stage, with Linear Predictive Coding coefficients of the residual. We compared seven classifiers with two different approaches in presence of multiple hearts beats in the recordings: feature averaging (proposed by us) and cycle averaging (state-of-the-art). The feature sets were also tested when using an oversampling method for balancing. The benchmark identified systems showing a satisfying performance in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, and Matthews correlation coefficient, with best results achieved when using the new feature averaging strategy together with oversampling. This work was accepted for publication in an international conference [30].

An Alternative Framework for Sparse Representations: Sparse “Analysis” Models

Participants : Rémi Gribonval, Nancy Bertin, Clément Gaultier.

Main collaborations: Srdan Kitic (Orange, Rennes), Laurent Albera and Siouar Bensaid (LTSI, Univ. Rennes)

In the past decade there has been a great interest in a synthesis-based model for signals, based on sparse and redundant representations. Such a model assumes that the signal of interest can be composed as a linear combination of few columns from a given matrix (the dictionary). An alternative analysis-based model can be envisioned, where an analysis operator multiplies the signal, leading to a cosparse outcome. Building on our pioneering work on the cosparse model [87], [117] [8], successful applications of this approach to sound source localization, brain imaging and audio restoration have been developed in the team during the last years [99], [101], [100], [55]. Along this line, two main achievements were obtained this year. First, and following the publication in 2016 of a journal paper embedding in a unified fashion our results in source localization [5], a book chapter gathering our contributions in physics-driven cosparse regularization, including new results and algorithms demonstrating the versatility, robustness and computational efficiency of our methods in realistic, large scale scenarios in acoustics and EEG signal processing, was published this year [45]. Second, we continued extending the cosparse framework on audio restoration problems [85], [84], [82], especially improvements on our released real-time declipping algorithm (A-SPADE - see Section 6.2) and extension to multichannel data [29].