# News for May 2020

Last month saw activity across a diverse collection of topics in sublinear algorithms. In particular, we had the following five six papers. (Sorry, I missed one)

One-Sided Error Testing of Monomials and Affine Subspaces by Oded Goldreich and Dana Ron (ECCC). This work focuses on one-sided testing of two kinds of problems (and their variants):
1. Testing Monomials: Suppose you are given a function $$f \colon \{0,1\}^n \to \{0,1\}$$. Is $$f = \wedge_{i \in I} x_i$$ (that is, is $$f$$ a monotone monomial).
2. Testing Affine Subspaces: Consider the task of testing whether a $$f \colon \mathcal{F}^n \to \{0,1\}$$ is the indicator of an $$(n-k)$$-dimensional affine space for some $$k$$ (where $$\mathcal{F}$$ is a finite field).

The paper shows that the general problem — the one in which the arity of the monomial (resp the co-dimension of the subspace) is not specified has one-sided query complexity $$\widetilde{O}(1/\varepsilon)$$. The same holds for testing whether the arity of the monomial is at most $$k$$ (resp the co-dimension of the subspace is at most $$k$$). Finally, the exact problem which seeks to test whether the arity of the monomial is exactly $$k$$ (resp the co-dimension of the space is exactly $$k$$) has query complexity $$\Omega(\log n)$$. For two sided testers however, size oblivious testers are known for this problem. Thus, like the authors remark, two-sided error is inherent in the case of the exact version of the problem.

Sampling Arbitrary Subgraphs Exactly Uniformly in Sublinear Time by Hendrik Fichtenberger, Mingze Gao, Pan Peng (arXiv). Readers of PT Review are no strangers to the problem of counting cliques in sublinear time (with a certain query model). Building on tools from , in , Eden-Ron-Seshadhri gave the first algorithms for counting number of copies $$K_r$$ in a graph $$G$$ to within a $$(1 \pm \varepsilon)$$ multiplicative factor. En route to this result, they also gave a procedure to sample cliques incident to some special set $$S \subseteq V(G)$$. The query model in  allowed the following queries: a u.a.r vertex query, degree query, $$i^{th}$$ neighbor query and a pair query which answers whether a pair $$(u,v)$$ forms an edge. The work under consideration shows a result which I personally find remarkable: given the additional ability to get a u.a.r edge sample, we can do the following. For any graph $$H$$ we can obtain a uniformly random subgraph isomorphic to $$H$$ in $$G$$. Let that sink in: this work shows that you can sample $$H$$ exactly uniformly from the graph $$G$$.

Finding Planted Cliques in Sublinear Time by Jay Mardia, Hilal Asi, Kabir Aladin Chandrasekher (arXiv). Planted Clique is a time honored problem in average case complexity. This classic problem asks the following: You are given a $$G \sim \mathcal{G}(n, 1/2)$$. Suppose I select a subset of $$k$$ vertices in this graph and put a clique on the subgraph they induce. In principle it is possible to recover the clique I planted if $$k > (2 + \varepsilon) \log n$$. But it seems you get polynomial time algorithms only when $$k \geq \Omega(\sqrt n)$$ even after you throw SDPs at the problem. Moreover, so far, the algorithms which recover the planted $$k$$-clique were known to take $$\widetilde{O}(n^2)$$ time. This work shows that you actually get algorithms which take time $$\widetilde{O}(n^{3/2})$$ if $$k \geq \Omega(\sqrt{n \log n})$$. The key idea is to first obtain a “core” part of the clique of size $$O(\log n)$$ in time $$\widetilde{O}(n^2/k)$$. This is followed up with a clique completion routine where you mark all vertices connected to the entire core as being potentially in the clique. The paper also shows a conditional lower bound result which shows that given query access to adjacency matrix of the graph, a natural family of non-adaptive algorithms cannot recover a planted $$k$$ clique in time $$o\left(\frac{n}{k}\right)^3$$ (for $$k \geq \widetilde{\Omega}(\sqrt n))$$.

A robust multi-dimensional sparse Fourier transform in the continuous setting by Yaonan Jin, Daogao Liu and Zhao Song (arXiv). Suppose you are given an unknown signal whose Fourier Spectrum is k-sparse (that is, there are at most k dominant Fourier Coefficients and all the others are zero or close to zero). Significant research effort has been devoted to learn these signals leading to works which study this problem for multi-dimensional discrete setting and in the one-dimensional continuous case. The $$d$$-dimensional continuous case $$(d = \Theta(1))$$ was largely unexplored. This work makes progress on this frontier by making some natural assumptions on the unknown signal. In particular, the paper assumes that the frequencies — which are vectors $$f_i’s \in R^d$$ — are well separated and satisfy $$\|f_i – f_j\|_2 \leq \eta$$ and that all $${f_i}_{i \in [k]} \subseteq [-F, F]^d$$ sit inside a bounded box.
The authors assume sample access to the signal in the sense that at any desired timestep $$\tau$$, the algorithm can sample the signal’s value. With this setup, the authors show that all the dominant frequencies can be recovered with a $$O_d(k \cdot \log(F/\eta))$$ samples by considering a relatively small time horizon.

Extrapolating the profile of a finite population by Soham Jana, Yury Polyanskiy, Yihong Wu (arXiv). Consider the following setup. You are given a universe $$k$$ balls. Ball come in up to $$k$$ different colors. Say you $$\theta_j$$ balls in color $$j$$ for each $$j \in [k]$$. One of the fundamental problems in statistics considers taking samples $$m$$ balls from the universe and attempts estimating “population profile” (that is, the number of balls in each color). Historically, it is known that unless an overwhelming majority of the universe has been seen, one cannot estimate the empirical distribution of colors. This paper shows that in the sublinear regime, with $$m \geq \omega(k/\log k)$$, it is possible to consistently estimate the population profile in total variation. And once you have a handle on the empirical distribution of the population, you can go ahead and learn lots of interesting label invariant properties of your universe (things like entropy, number of distinct elements etc).

Testing Positive Semi-Definiteness via Random Submatrices by Ainesh Bakshi, Nadiia Chepurko, Rajesh Jayaram (arXiv). Suppose I give you a PSD matrix $$A \in R^{n \times n}$$. You know that all of its principle submatrices are also PSD. What if $$A$$ was $$\varepsilon$$-far from the PSD cone (in a sense I will define soon)? What can you say about the eigenvalues of principle submatrices of $$A$$ now? In this paper, the authors tackle precisely this question. The paper defines a matrix $$A$$ to be $$\varepsilon$$-far in $$\ell_2^2$$ distance from the PSD Cone if you have that $$\min_{B \geq 0: B \in R^{n \times n}}\|A – B\|_F^2 \geq \varepsilon n^2$$. You are allowed to randomly sample a bunch of principle submatrices (of order roughly $$O(1/\varepsilon)$$ by $$O(1/\varepsilon)$$ and check if they are PSD. Armed with this setup, the paper gives a non-adaptive one sided tester for this problem which makes $$\widetilde{O}(1/\varepsilon^4)$$ queries. The paper also supplements this result with a lower bound of $$\widetilde{\Omega}(1/\varepsilon^2)$$ queries.