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Strong collapse and persistent homology
Journal of Topology and Analysis  (IF0.457),  Pub Date : 2021-04-12, DOI: 10.1142/s1793525321500291
Jean-Daniel Boissonnat, Siddharth Pritam, Divyansh Pareek

In this paper, we introduce a fast and memory efficient approach to compute the Persistent Homology (PH) of a sequence of simplicial complexes. The basic idea is to simplify the complexes of the input sequence by using strong collapses, as introduced by Barmak and Miniam [DCG (2012)], and to compute the PH of an induced sequence of reduced simplicial complexes that has the same PH as the initial one. Our approach has several salient features that distinguishes it from previous work. It is not limited to filtrations (i.e. sequences of nested simplicial subcomplexes) but works for other types of sequences like towers and zigzags. To strong collapse a simplicial complex, we only need to store the maximal simplices of the complex, not the full set of all its simplices, which saves a lot of space and time. Moreover, the complexes in the sequence can be strong collapsed independently and in parallel.

We also focus on the problem of computing persistent homology of a flag tower, i.e. a sequence of flag complexes connected by simplicial maps. We show that if we restrict the class of simplicial complexes to flag complexes, we can achieve decisive improvement in terms of time and space complexities with respect to previous work. Moreover we can strong collapse a flag complex knowing only its 1-skeleton and the resulting complex is also a flag complex. When we strong collapse the complexes in a flag tower, we obtain a reduced sequence that is also a flag tower we call the core flag tower. We then convert the core flag tower to an equivalent filtration to compute its PH. Here again, we only use the 1-skeletons of the complexes. The resulting method is simple and extremely efficient. As a result and as demonstrated by numerous experiments on publicly available data sets, our approach is extremely fast and memory efficient in practice. Finally, we can compromise between precision and time by choosing the number of simplicial complexes of the sequence we strong collapse.