School of Mathematics Colloquium
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 11:00am
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
In this age of high-dimensional data, many challenging questions take the following shape: can you check whether the data has a certain desired property by checking that property for many, but low-dimensional data fragments? In recent years, such questions have inspired new, exciting research in algebra, especially relevant when the property is highly symmetric and expressible through systems of polynomial equations. I will discuss three concrete questions of this kind that we have settled in the affirmative: Gaussian factor analysis from an algebraic perspective, high-dimensional tensors of bounded rank, and higher secant varieties of Grassmannians. The theory developed for these examples deals with group actions on infinite-dimensional algebraic varieties, and applies to problems from many areas. In particular, I will sketch its (potential) relation to the fantastic Matroid Minor Theorem.