A Primer on Topological Data Analysis to Support Image Analysis Tasks in Environmental Science [article]

Lander Ver Hoef and Henry Adams and Emily J. King and Imme Ebert-Uphoff
2022 arXiv   pre-print
Topological data analysis (TDA) is a tool from data science and mathematics that is beginning to make waves in environmental science. In this work, we seek to provide an intuitive and understandable introduction to a tool from TDA that is particularly useful for the analysis of imagery, namely persistent homology. We briefly discuss the theoretical background but focus primarily on understanding the output of this tool and discussing what information it can glean. To this end, we frame our
more » ... ssion around a guiding example of classifying satellite images from the Sugar, Fish, Flower, and Gravel Dataset produced for the study of mesocale organization of clouds by Rasp et. al. in 2020 (arXiv:1906:01906). We demonstrate how persistent homology and its vectorization, persistence landscapes, can be used in a workflow with a simple machine learning algorithm to obtain good results, and explore in detail how we can explain this behavior in terms of image-level features. One of the core strengths of persistent homology is how interpretable it can be, so throughout this paper we discuss not just the patterns we find, but why those results are to be expected given what we know about the theory of persistent homology. Our goal is that a reader of this paper will leave with a better understanding of TDA and persistent homology, be able to identify problems and datasets of their own for which persistent homology could be helpful, and gain an understanding of results they obtain from applying the included GitHub example code.
arXiv:2207.10552v1 fatcat:skdidlxdube5lgb3jp6mxuybou