Speaker: David Choi

**Abstract:**
A large number of problems in optimization, machine learning, signal
processing can be effectively addressed by suitable semidefinite
programming (SDP) relaxations. Unfortunately, generic SDP solvers
hardly scale beyond instances with a few hundreds variables (in the
underlying combinatorial problem). On the other hand, it has been
observed empirically that an effective strategy amounts to introducing
a (non-convex) rank constraint, and solving the resulting smooth
optimization problem by ascent methods. This non-convex problem has
--generically-- a large number of local maxima, and the reason for
this success is therefore unclear.
This paper provides rigorous support for this approach. For the
problem of maximizing a linear functional over the elliptope, we prove
that all local maxima are within a small gap from the SDP optimum. In
several problems of interest, arbitrarily small relative error can be
achieved by taking the rank constraint k to be of order one,
independently of the problem size.

PS: I might also mention little bits from this paper, just to motivate
the other one:

Reference: "Community detection in sparse networks via
Grothendieck's inequality", Olivier Guédon and Roman Vershynin,http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.4686.

This is based on joint work with Michael Mahoney.
Reference: http://arxiv.org/abs/1505.06659.