Attention: See the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and updates. Learn More

Vin de Silva

Professor of Mathematics; Chair of Mathematics
With Pomona Since: 2005
  • Expertise


    Vin de Silva is mathematician specializing in applications of geometry and topology. Since the turn of the millennium, there has been a tremendous surge of interest in solving data analysis problems using classical ideas in geometry and algebraic topology. This has resulted in a richness of new mathematical technologies for studying scientific data sets. Dr de Silva has had the good fortune to work with many fine researchers around the world, publishing research in machine learning, topological data analysis, sensor networks, tensor decomposition, and persistent topology. He believes that a little geometric insight can sometimes go a long way.

    Research Interests

    • Applied Algebraic Topology
    • Machine Learning

    Areas of Expertise


    • Applied Algebraic Topology


  • Work


    With E.W. Chambers, J. Erickson and R. Ghrist, “Vietoris–Rips complexes of planar point sets,” Discrete and Computational Geometry (to appear)

    With G. Carlsson and D. Morozov, “Zigzag persistent homology and real-valued functions.” Proc. 25th Annual Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG), June 2009, pp.247–256

    With M. Vejdemo-Johansson, “Persistent cohomology and circular coordinates,” Proc. 25th Annual Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG), June 2009, pp.227–236

    "A Weak Characterisation of the Delaunay Triangulation", Geometriae Dedicata 135(1), August 2008, pp. 39-64

    With L.-H. Lim. "Tensor rank and the ill-posedness of the best low-rank approximation problem", SIAM Journal on Matrix Analysis and Applications, Special Issue on Tensor Decompositions and Applications 30(3), 2008, pp.1084–1127

    With R. Ghrist, "Homological sensor networks", Notices of the American Mathematical Society 54(1), 10–17, January 2007

    With R. Ghrist, A. Muhammad, "Blind swarms for coverage in 2-d", Proc. Robotics: Science & Systems I, MIT, Cambridge, MA, June 8–10, 2005

  • Education


    Oxford University

    Master of Arts
    Cambridge University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Combinatorics
    • Differential Equations/Modeling
    • Linear Algebra
    • Topics in Geometry and Topology
    • Vector Calculus
    • Critical Inquiry Seminar
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2012

    Scientific American, 2007 SciAm 50 Awards List (with collaborator Robert Ghrist), an annual recognition of 50 science, research and industry teams and individuals with important advances in science. Cited for the development of new algorithms using mathematical homology to analyze whether a network of randomly distributed sensors has gaps or overlaps in coverage -- adding flexibility to wireless sensor network technology (January 2008).