A system for performing tensor decomposition in a selective expansive and/or recursive manner, a tensor is decomposed into a specified number of components, and one or more tensor components are selected for further decomposition. For each selected component, the significant elements thereof are identified, and using the indices of the significant elements a sub-tensor is formed. In a subsequent iteration, each sub-tensor is decomposed into a respective specified number of components. Additional sub-tensors corresponding to the components generated in the subsequent iteration are formed, and these additional sub-tensors may be decomposed further in yet another iteration, until no additional components are selected. The mode of a sub-tensor can be decreased or increased prior to decomposition thereof. Components likely to reveal information about the data stored in the tensor can be selected for decomposition.
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