Lederman, R. R.; Singer, A. A representation theory perspective on simultaneous alignment and classification. Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis, 2020, 49, 1001-1024
Single particle cryo-electron microscopy (EM) is a method for determining the 3-D structure of macromolecules from many noisy 2-D projection images of individual macromolecules whose orientations and positions are random and unknown. The problem of orientation assignment for the images motivated work on multireference alignment. The recent non-unique games framework provides a representation theoretic approach to alignment over compact groups, and offers a convex relaxation with certificates of global optimality in some cases. One of the great opportunities in cryo-EM is studying heterogeneous samples, containing two or more distinct conformations of molecules. Taking advantage of this opportunity presents an algorithmic challenge: determining both the class and orientation of each particle. We generalize multireference alignment to a problem of alignment and classification, and propose to extend non-unique games to the problem of simultaneous alignment and classification with the goal of simultaneously classifying cryo-EM images and aligning them within their classes.