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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. We investigated radial growth of post oak (Quercus stellata Wangenh.) growing in a range of stand structures (forest to savanna) created in 1984 by different harvesting, thinning, and prescribed fire intervals. We related ring width index (RWI) to monthly and seasonal climate variables and time since fire to assess impacts of climate variability and interactions with management on radial growth. The RWI of all treatments was positively correlated to minimum daily temperature the previous September and precipitation late spring and early summer the current year, and negatively correlated to maximum daily temperatures and drought index late spring – early summer. June weather was most strongly correlated in four of five treatments. While stand structure affected absolute diameter growth, the RWI of savanna and forest stands responded similarly to climate variability, and low intensity prescribed fire did not influence RWI. On average, a 100 mm reduction in June precipitation decreased RWI by 7%, a 1 °C increase in previous-year September daily minimum temperature increased RWI by 3.5%, and a 1 °C increase in June maximum daily temperature decreased RWI by 3.7%. Therefore, negative effects of drought and warmer spring and summer temperatures may be reduced by a longer growing season under warmer climate scenarios. However, management did not appear to influence RWI. 
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  3. One approach to understanding complex data is to study its shape through the lens of algebraic topology. While the early development of topological data analysis focused primarily on static data, in recent years, theoretical and applied studies have turned to data that varies in time. A time-varying collection of metric spaces as formed, for example, by a moving school of fish or flock of birds, can contain a vast amount of information. There is often a need to simplify or summarize the dynamic behavior. We provide an introduction to topological summaries of time-varying metric spaces including vineyards [19], crocker plots [55], and multiparameter rank functions [37]. We then introduce a new tool to summarize time-varying metric spaces: a crocker stack. Crocker stacks are convenient for visualization, amenable to machine learning, and satisfy a desirable continuity property which we prove. We demonstrate the utility of crocker stacks for a parameter identification task involving an influential model of biological aggregations [57]. Altogether, we aim to bring the broader applied mathematics community up-to-date on topological summaries of time-varying metric spaces.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Through the use of examples, we explain one way in which applied topology has evolved since the birth of persistent homology in the early 2000s. The first applications of topology to data emphasized the global shape of a dataset, such as the three-circle model for 3 × 3 pixel patches from natural images, or the configuration space of the cyclo-octane molecule, which is a sphere with a Klein bottle attached via two circles of singularity. In these studies of global shape, short persistent homology bars are disregarded as sampling noise. More recently, however, persistent homology has been used to address questions about the local geometry of data. For instance, how can local geometry be vectorized for use in machine learning problems? Persistent homology and its vectorization methods, including persistence landscapes and persistence images, provide popular techniques for incorporating both local geometry and global topology into machine learning. Our meta-hypothesis is that the short bars are as important as the long bars for many machine learning tasks. In defense of this claim, we survey applications of persistent homology to shape recognition, agent-based modeling, materials science, archaeology, and biology. Additionally, we survey work connecting persistent homology to geometric features of spaces, including curvature and fractal dimension, and various methods that have been used to incorporate persistent homology into machine learning. 
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  5. Abstract

    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 discussion around a guiding example of classifying satellite images from the sugar, fish, flower, and gravel dataset produced for the study of mesoscale organization of clouds by Rasp et al. 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 we 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 readers of this paper will leave with a better understanding of TDA and persistent homology, will be able to identify problems and datasets of their own for which persistent homology could be helpful, and will gain an understanding of the results they obtain from applying the included GitHub example code.

    Significance Statement

    Information such as the geometric structure and texture of image data can greatly support the inference of the physical state of an observed Earth system, for example, in remote sensing to determine whether wildfires are active or to identify local climate zones. Persistent homology is a branch of topological data analysis that allows one to extract such information in an interpretable way—unlike black-box methods like deep neural networks. The purpose of this paper is to explain in an intuitive manner what persistent homology is and how researchers in environmental science can use it to create interpretable models. We demonstrate the approach to identify certain cloud patterns from satellite imagery and find that the resulting model is indeed interpretable.

     
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Let [Formula: see text] be a group acting properly and by isometries on a metric space [Formula: see text]; it follows that the quotient or orbit space [Formula: see text] is also a metric space. We study the Vietoris–Rips and Čech complexes of [Formula: see text]. Whereas (co)homology theories for metric spaces let the scale parameter of a Vietoris–Rips or Čech complex go to zero, and whereas geometric group theory requires the scale parameter to be sufficiently large, we instead consider intermediate scale parameters (neither tending to zero nor to infinity). As a particular case, we study the Vietoris–Rips and Čech thickenings of projective spaces at the first scale parameter where the homotopy type changes. 
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