Authors: Jules Vidal, Joseph Budin, Julien Tierny
Abstract: This paper presents an efficient algorithm for the progressive approximation of Wasserstein barycenters of persistence diagrams, with applications to the visual analysis of ensemble data. Given a set of scalar fields, our approach enables the computation of a persistence diagram which is representative of the set, and which visually conveys the number, data ranges and saliences of the main features of interest found in the set. Such representative diagrams are obtained by computing explicitly the discrete Wasserstein barycenter of the set of persistence diagrams, a notoriously computationally intensive task. In particular, we revisit efficient algorithms for Wasserstein distance approximation [12,51] to extend previous work on barycenter estimation . We present a new fast algorithm, which progressively approximates the barycenter by iteratively increasing the computation accuracy as well as the number of persistent features in the output diagram. Such a progressivity drastically improves convergence in practice and allows to design an interruptible algorithm, capable of respecting computation time constraints. This enables the approximation of Wasserstein barycenters within interactive times. We present an application to ensemble clustering where we revisit the k-means algorithm to exploit our barycenters and compute, within execution time constraints, meaningful clusters of ensemble data along with their barycenter diagram. Extensive experiments on synthetic and real-life data sets report that our algorithm converges to barycenters that are qualitatively meaningful with regard to the applications, and quantitatively comparable to previous techniques, while offering an order of magnitude speedup when run until convergence (without time constraint). Our algorithm can be trivially parallelized to provide additional speedups in practice on standard workstations. We provide a lightweight C++ implementation of our approach that can be used to reproduce our results.