A Semidefinite Hierarchy for Containment of Spectrahedra

A spectrahedron is the positivity region of a linear matrix pencil, thus defining the feasible set of a semidefinite program. We propose and study a hierarchy of sufficient semidefinite conditions to certify the containment of a spectrahedron in another one. This approach comes from applying a moment relaxation to a suitable polynomial optimization formulation. The hierarchical criterion is stronger than a solitary semidefinite criterion discussed earlier by Helton, Klep, and McCullough as well as by the authors. Moreover, several exactness results for the solitary criterion can be brought forward to the hierarchical approach. The hierarchy also applies to the (equivalent) question of checking whether a map between matrix (sub-)spaces is positive. In this context, the solitary criterion checks whether the map is completely positive, and thus our results provide a hierarchy between positivity and complete positivity.



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