Jan 17 2020

TRIPODS Open House Keynote Talk: Algorithmic Questions in High-Dimensional Robust Statistics, by Ilias Diakonikolas

January 17, 2020

9:30 AM - 10:20 AM


Room A, 4th Fl. 200 South Wacker Drive @ DPI


Chicago, IL

Ilias Diakonikolas (UW Madison): Algorithmic Questions in High-Dimensional Robust Statistics

Fitting a model to a collection of observations is one of the quintessential questions in statistics. The standard assumption is that the data was generated by a model of a given type (e.g., a mixture model). This simplifying assumption is at best only approximately valid, as real datasets are typically exposed to some source of contamination. Hence, any estimator designed for a particular model must also be robust in the presence of corrupted data. This is the prototypical goal in robust statistics, a field that took shape in the 1960s with the pioneering works of Tukey and Huber. Until recently, even for the basic problem of robustly estimating the mean of a high-dimensional dataset, all known robust estimators were hard to compute. Moreover, the quality of the common heuristics degrades badly as the dimension increases.

In this talk, we will survey the recent progress in algorithmic high-dimensional robust statistics. We will describe the first computationally efficient algorithms for robust mean and covariance estimation and the main insights behind them. We will also present practical applications of these estimators to exploratory data analysis and adversarial machine learning. Finally, we will discuss new directions and opportunities for future work.

Bio: Ilias Diakonikolas is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Sciences at UW Madison. He obtained a Diploma in electrical and computer engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and a Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University where he was advised by Mihalis Yannakakis. Before moving to UW, he was an Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair at USC and a faculty member at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to that, he was the Simons postdoctoral fellow in theoretical computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research is on the algorithmic foundations of massive data sets, in particular on designing efficient algorithms for fundamental problems in machine learning. He is a recipient of a Sloan Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, a Google Faculty Research Award, a Marie Curie Fellowship, the best paper award at NeurIPS 2019, the IBM Research Pat Goldberg Best Paper Award, and an honorable mention in the George Nicholson competition from the INFORMS society.

This talk is part of the UIC TRIPODS Open House. For more information please see: https://tripods.uic.edu/events/tripods-open-house/

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Lev Reyzin

Date posted

Jan 24, 2020

Date updated

Jan 24, 2020


Ilias Diakonikolas | (UW Madison)