Abstract : We study in this thesis a particular machine learning approach to represent signals that that consists of modelling data as linear combinations of a few elements from a learned dictionary. It can be viewed as an extension of the classical wavelet framework, whose goal is to design such dictionaries (often orthonormal basis) that are adapted to natural signals. An important success of dictionary learning methods has been their ability to model natural image patches and the performance of image denoising algorithms that it has yielded. We address several open questions related to this framework: How to efficiently optimize the dictionary? How can the model be enriched by adding a structure to the dictionary? Can current image processing tools based on this method be further improved? How should one learn the dictionary when it is used for a different task than signal reconstruction? How can it be used for solving computer vision problems? We answer these questions with a multidisciplinarity approach, using tools from statistical machine learning, convex and stochastic optimization, image and signal processing, computer vision, but also optimization on graphs.