A topological view of estimation from noisy relative measurements

Pooya Molavi*, Ali Jadbabaie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In this paper we study the problem of estimating the state of sensors in a sensor network from noisy pairwise relative measurements. The underlying sensor network is typically modeled by a graph whose edges correspond to pairwise relative measurements and nodes represent sensors. Using tools from algebraic topology and cohomology theory, we present a new model in which the higher order relations between measurements are captured as simplicial complexes. This allows us to address the fundamental tension between two conflicting goals: finding estimates that are close to obtained measurements, and at the same time are consistent around any sequence of pairwise measurements that form a cycle. By defining a measure of inconsistency around each cycle, we present a one-parameter family of algorithms that solves the estimation problem by identifying and removing the smallest fraction of measurements that make the estimates globally inconsistent. We demonstrate that the inconsistencies are due to topological obstructions and can be decomposed into local and global components that have interesting geometric interpretations. Furthermore, we show that the proposed algorithm is naturally distributed and will provably result in consistent estimates, and more importantly, recovers two sparse estimation algorithms as special cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2011 American Control Conference, ACC 2011
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Sep 29 2011
Event2011 American Control Conference, ACC 2011 - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jun 29 2011Jul 1 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the American Control Conference
ISSN (Print)0743-1619


Other2011 American Control Conference, ACC 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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