A Sum of Squares Characterization of Perfect Graphs

We present an algebraic characterization of perfect graphs, i.e., graphs for which the clique number and the chromatic number coincide for every induced subgraph. We show that a graph is perfect if and only if certain nonnegative polynomials associated with the graph are sums of squares. As a byproduct, we obtain several infinite families of … Read more

Sums of Separable and Quadratic Polynomials

We study separable plus quadratic (SPQ) polynomials, i.e., polynomials that are the sum of univariate polynomials in different variables and a quadratic polynomial. Motivated by the fact that nonnegative separable and nonnegative quadratic polynomials are sums of squares, we study whether nonnegative SPQ polynomials are (i) the sum of a nonnegative separable and a nonnegative … Read more

Safely Learning Dynamical Systems from Short Trajectories

A fundamental challenge in learning to control an unknown dynamical system is to reduce model uncertainty by making measurements while maintaining safety. In this work, we formulate a mathematical definition of what it means to safely learn a dynamical system by sequentially deciding where to initialize the next trajectory. In our framework, the state of … Read more

Learning Dynamical Systems with Side Information

We present a mathematical and computational framework for the problem of learning a dynamical system from noisy observations of a few trajectories and subject to side information. Side information is any knowledge we might have about the dynamical system we would like to learn besides trajectory data. It is typically inferred from domain-specific knowledge or … Read more

Complexity Aspects of Local Minima and Related Notions

We consider the notions of (i) critical points, (ii) second-order points, (iii) local minima, and (iv) strict local minima for multivariate polynomials. For each type of point, and as a function of the degree of the polynomial, we study the complexity of deciding (1) if a given point is of that type, and (2) if … Read more

On the Complexity of Finding a Local Minimizer of a Quadratic Function over a Polytope

We show that unless P=NP, there cannot be a polynomial-time algorithm that finds a point within Euclidean distance $c^n$ (for any constant $c \ge 0$) of a local minimizer of an $n$-variate quadratic function over a polytope. This result (even with $c=0$) answers a question of Pardalos and Vavasis that appeared in 1992 on a … Read more

A Survey of Recent Scalability Improvements for Semidefinite Programming with Applications in Machine Learning, Control, and Robotics

Historically, scalability has been a major challenge to the successful application of semidefinite programming in fields such as machine learning, control, and robotics. In this paper, we survey recent approaches for addressing this challenge including (i) approaches for exploiting structure (e.g., sparsity and symmetry) in a problem, (ii) approaches that produce low-rank approximate solutions to … Read more

Time-Varying Semidefinite Programs

We study time-varying semidefinite programs (TV-SDPs), which are semidefinite programs whose data (and solutions) are functions of time. Our focus is on the setting where the data varies polynomially with time. We show that under a strict feasibility assumption, restricting the solutions to also be polynomial functions of time does not change the optimal value … Read more

On the Complexity of Detecting Convexity over a Box

It has recently been shown that the problem of testing global convexity of polynomials of degree four is {strongly} NP-hard, answering an open question of N.Z. Shor. This result is minimal in the degree of the polynomial when global convexity is of concern. In a number of applications however, one is interested in testing convexity … Read more

Robust-to-Dynamics Optimization

A robust-to-dynamics optimization (RDO) problem} is an optimization problem specified by two pieces of input: (i) a mathematical program (an objective function $f:\mathbb{R}^n\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$ and a feasible set $\Omega\subseteq\mathbb{R}^n$), and (ii) a dynamical system (a map $g:\mathbb{R}^n\rightarrow\mathbb{R}^n$). Its goal is to minimize $f$ over the set $\mathcal{S}\subseteq\Omega$ of initial conditions that forever remain in $\Omega$ under … Read more