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DIMACS Workshop on Optimization in Distance Geometry

June 26, 2019 - June 28, 2019



Rutgers University

CoRE Building

96 Frelinghuysen Road

Piscataway, NJ 08854

Click here for map.


Nathan Krislock, Northern Illinois University

Carlile Lavor, University of Campinas

Antonio Mucherino, University of Rennes

Distance Geometry (DG) has a rich mathematical history, rooted in Heron’s theorem for computing the area of a triangle from the lengths of its sides. DG was further developed in the 1800s and 1900s by Cayley, Maxwell, Menger, and Isaac Schoenberg, who gave, among other things, an algebraic proof of the equivalence between distance matrices and Gram matrices. The essence of Schoenberg’s proof is now used to show the validity of the well-known Multidimensional Scaling technique.

DG today is a research area bridging mathematics and computer science with applicability to practical problems in a wide range of disciplines. In the majority of DG applications, we are given an incomplete list of distances between pairs of objects, and we seek positions in Rn realizing those distances. Classical applications of DG include such topics as protein conformation determination and sensor network localization, while emerging applications range from the study of molecular nanostructure to the adaptation of human movements in simulated environments. DG is also used in important data science applications such as compressed sensing, low rank matrix completion, and visualization of high-dimensional data.

Although the natural statement of a DG problem is as a constraint satisfaction problem, most solution methods are based on formulating a DG problem as an optimization problem. Depending on the instance at hand, either a continuous formulation as a semidefinite program or a combinatorial formulation might be preferred. Thus, DG applications reap benefits from progress in both the continuous and discrete domains.

This workshop will: 1) highlight important optimization challenges in distance geometry; 2) draw connections to closely related problems in graph rigidity, semidefinite programming, and matrix completion, among others; 3) investigate complementary continuous and discrete approaches to distance geometry, with the aim of developing new efficient hybrid methods; and 4) involve researchers who are applying DG to in a wide range of fields. While solution methods for DG problems are mainly developed by researchers in mathematics, computer science, and operations research, novel applications emerge from a myriad of fields, such as biology, chemistry, materials science, engineering, robotics, and data and information sciences.

The workshop will include four tutorial presentations to foster interdisciplinary engagement. One will be a general overview of DG that is mostly aimed at students and other newcomers, and another will highlight on emerging applications of the distance geometry, such as, for example, nanostructure problems in materials science. This workshop builds on the 2016 DIMACS Workshop on Distance Geometry: Theory and Applications.

List of confirmed speakers:

Amir Ali Ahmadi, Princeton University

Abdo Alfakih, University of Windsor, Canada

Andres David Baez, Federal University of Technology – Paraná, Brazil

Frederike Dümbgen, EPFL, Switzerland

Phil Duxbury, Michigan State University

Rosiane Freitas, Federal University of Amazonas, Brazil

Shuai Huang, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Yuehaw Khoo, Stanford University

Luis Leduino, Federal University of Sao Paolo, Brazil

Leo Liberti, CNRS, France

Jung-Hsin Lin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Nelson Maculan, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Anthony Nixon, Lancaster University, UK

Jeremy Omer, INSA Rennes, France

Amit Singer, Princeton University

Michael Souza, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil

Ileana Streinu, Smith College

Abiy Tasissa, RPI

Thibaut Vidal, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Henry Wolkowicz, University of Waterloo, Canada


Presentation at the workshop is by invitation. Attendance at the workshop is open to all interested participants (subject to space limitations). Please register if you would like to attend this workshop.


There will be a special issue of the Journal of Global Optimization associated with the workshop and accepting papers on appropriate topics related to distance geometry. The special issue will be edited by Andres David Baez (Federal University of Technology, Paraná, Brazil), together with workshop organizers Carlile Lavor and Antonio Mucherino. A more detailed call for papers will be posted when it is available.

Please note that June 26 and June 28, the workshop will be held in the CoRE Building Lecture Hall (Room 101). On June 27, the workshop will be held in the Hill Center, Room 116. Parking is the same location for both venues.

Important Information about Parking: Workshop attendees must use the below link to register their vehicle for the event.  Until this process is completed your vehicle is not registered and you may receive a citation. Faculty, Staff, and Students must park only in lots they are authorized to park in.  Workshop attendees may also park in Lots 64, 60A & 60B without permits.

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Please click here to get information for travel and accomodations information for this event.