A polynomial-time relaxation of the Gromov-Hausdorff distance

Villar, Soledad, Bandeira, Afonso S., Blumberg, Andrew J., Ward, Rachel

arXiv.org Machine Learning 

The Gromov-Hausdorff distance provides a metric on the set of isometry classes of compact metric spaces. Unfortunately, computing this metric directly is believed to be computationally intractable. Motivated by applications in shape matching and point-cloud comparison, we study a semidefinite programming relaxation of the Gromov-Hausdorff metric. This relaxation can be computed in polynomial time, and somewhat surprisingly is itself a pseudometric. We describe the induced topology on the set of compact metric spaces. Finally, we demonstrate the numerical performance of various algorithms for computing the relaxed distance and apply these algorithms to several relevant data sets. In particular we propose a greedy algorithm for finding the best correspondence between finite metric spaces that can handle hundreds of points.