Category Archives: Monthly digest

News for May 2019

We were able to find four new papers for May 2019 — as usual, please let us know if we missed any!
EDIT: We did, in fact, miss one paper, which is the bottom one listed below.

On Local Testability in the Non-Signaling Setting, by Alessandro Chiesa, Peter Manohar, and Igor Shinkar (ECCC). This paper studies testability of a certain generalization of (distributions over) functions, known as \(k\)-non-signalling functions, objects which see use in hardness of approximation and delegation of computation. Prior work by the authors show the effectiveness of the linearity test in this setting, leading to the design of PCPs. On the other hand, in this work, the authors show that two types of bivariate tests are ineffective in revealing low-degree structure of these objects.

Computing and Testing Small Vertex Connectivity in Near-Linear Time and Queries, by Danupon Nanongkai, Thatchaphol Saranurak, and Sorrachai Yingchareonthawornchai (arXiv). This work, apparently simultaneous with the one by Forster and Yang that we covered last month, also studies the problem of locally computing cuts in a graph. The authors also go further, and study approximation algorithms for the same problems. Inspired by the connections to property testing in the work of Forster and Yang, they apply these approximation algorithms to get even more query-efficient algorithms for the problems of testing \(k\)-edge- and \(k\)-vertex-connectivity.

Testing Graphs against an Unknown Distribution, by Lior Gishboliner and Asaf Shapira (arXiv). This paper studies graph property testing, under the vertex-distribution-free (VDF) model, as recently introduced by Goldreich. In the VDF model, rather than the ability to sample a random node, the algorithm has the ability to sample a node from some unknown distribution, and must be accurate with respect to the same distribution (reminiscent of the PAC learning model). In Goldreich’s work, it was shown that every property which is testable in the VDF model is semi-hereditary. This work strengthens this statement and proves a converse, thus providing a characterization: a property is testable in the VDF model if and only if it is both hereditary and extendable. These descriptors roughly mean that the property is closed under both removal and addition of nodes (with the choice of addition of edges in the latter case). This is a far simpler characterization than that of properties which are testable in the standard model, which is a special case of the VDF model.

Private Identity Testing for High-Dimensional Distributions, by Clément L. Canonne, Gautam Kamath, Audra McMillan, Jonathan Ullman, and Lydia Zakynthinou (arXiv). This work continues a recent line on distribution testing under the constraint of differential privacy. The settings of interest are multivariate distributions: namely, product distributions over the hypercube and Gaussians with identity covariance. An application of a statistic of CDKS, combined with a Lipschitz extension from the set of datasets likely to be generated by such structured distributions, gives a sample-efficient algorithm. A time-efficient version of this extension is also provided, at the cost of some loss in the sample complexity. Some tools of independent interest include reductions between Gaussian mean and product uniformity testing, balanced product identity to product uniformity testing, and an equivalence between univariate and “extreme” product identity testing.

Testing Bipartitness in an Augmented VDF Bounded-Degree Graph Model, by Oded Goldreich (arXiv). Another work on the vertex-distribution-free (VDF) model, as described above. In this one, Goldreich considers an augmentation of the model, where the algorithm is further allowed to query the probability of each node. With this augmentation, he gives \(\tilde O(\sqrt{n})\)-time algorithms for testing bipartiteness and cycle-free-ness, where \(n\) is the “effective support” of the distribution. That is, \(n\) is the number of nodes in the graph after discarding the nodes with minimal probability until \(\varepsilon/5\) mass is removed.

News for April 2019

After a quite slow month of March, things sped up quite significantly in April: six different papers, ranging from graph testing to function testing to quantum distribution testing!

Update (05/04): We missed one. Seven!

Junta correlation is testable, by Anindya De, Elchanan Mossel, and Joe Neeman (arXiv). Junta testing really has seen a lot of attention and progress over the pass couple years! In this new work, the focus is on the tolerant version of (Boolean) junta testing, where the goal is to decide whether a given function \(f\colon \{-1,1\}^n\to \{-1,1\}\) is close to some \(k\)-junta, or far from any such simple function. The current paper improves on previous work of Blais, Canonne, Eden, Levi, and Ron, which showed how to distinguish between \(\varepsilon\)-close to \(k\)-junta and \(16\varepsilon\)-far from \(k\)-junta in \(O_{k,\varepsilon}(1)\) queries, in two ways: (i) the gap-factor of 16 can now be made arbitrarily small, yielding the first fully tolerant non-trivial junta tester; and (ii) the new algorithm also identifies the underlying “core junta” (up to permutation of the coordinates). Besides the other results contained in the paper (such as results for a relaxation of the tolerant question akin to that of Blais et al.), a key aspect of this paper is to go beyond the use of (set) influence as a proxy for distance to junta-ness which underlied all previous work, thus potentially opening a new avenue towards get fully tolerant, \(\mathrm{poly}(k,1/\varepsilon)\)-query junta testing algorithms.

Testing Tensor Products, by Irit Dinur and Konstantin Golubev (arXiv). In this paper, the authors consider the following testing question: given query access to a Boolean function \(f\colon [n]^d \to \mathbb{F}_2\), test whether \(f\) is of the form \(f(x) = f_1(x_1)+\dots f_d(x_d)\) (equivalently, this is the task of testing whether a \(d\)-dimensional tensor with \(\pm 1\) is of rank \(1\)). They provide two different proximity-oblivious testers (POT) for this task: a \(4\)-query one, reminiscent and building upon the BLR linearity test; as well as a \((d+1)\)-query POT (which they dub “Shapka Test,” one can assume for their love of warm and comfortable hats), whose analysis is significantly simpler.

Changing direction, the next paper we saw is concerned with quantum testing of (regular, good ol’ classical) probability distributions:

Quantum Algorithms for Classical Probability Distributions, by Aleksandrs Belovs (arXiv). This work on quantum distribution testing considers 4 of the existing models of access to samples from an unknown probability distribution, analyzes their relationship, and argues their merits. Further, the autho establishes that for the simple hypothesis testing question of distinguishing between two (known, fixed) probability distributions \(p,q\), in all four models the optimal sample complexity is proportional to the inverse of the Hellinger distance between \(p\) and \(q\)—in contrast to the classical setting, where it is known to be proportional to the squared inverse of this distance.

Turning to graphs, the next work considers clustering of bounded-degree graphs, a topic we recently discussed as well:

Robust Clustering Oracle and Local Reconstructor of Cluster Structure of Graphs, by Pan Peng (arXiv). Consider the following noisy model: an unknown bounded-degree graph (of maximum degree \(d\)) \(G\) which is \((k, \phi_{\rm in},\phi_{\rm out})\)-clusterable (i.e., clusterable in at most \(k\) clusters of inner and outer conductances bounded by \(\phi_{\rm in},\phi_{\rm out}\)) is adversarially modified in at most \($\varepsilon d n\) edges between clusters. This noise model, introduced in this work, leads to the natural questions of “recovering the underlying graph \(G\)”: this is what the author tackles, by designing sublinear-time local clustering oracles and local reconstruction algorithms (local filters) in this setting. Further, in view of the noise model reminiscent of property testing in the bounded-degree graph setting, connections to testing clusterability are discussed; the implications of the results for testing clusterability are discussed in Section 1.4.

A Faster Local Algorithm for Detecting Bounded-Size Cuts with Applications to Higher-Connectivity Problems, by Sebastian Forster and Liu Yang (arXiv). The authors focus on the problem of finding an edge (or vertex) cut in a given graph from a local viewpoint, i.e., in the setting of local computation algorithms, and provide a slew of results in detecting bounded-size cuts. This in turn has direct implications for testing \(k\)-edge and \(k\)-vertex connectivity, directed and undirected, in both the bounded-degree and general (unbounded degree) models, improving on or subsuming the current state-of-the-art across the board (see Section 1.2.4 of the paper, and the very helpful Tables 3 and 4, for a summary of the improvements).

Random walks and forbidden minors II: A \(\mathrm{poly}(d\varepsilon^−1)\)-query tester for minor-closed properties of bounded degree graphs, by Akash Kumar, C. Seshadhri, and Andrew Stolman (ECCC). Following their breakthrough from last May, the authors are at it again! Leveraging a random-walk approach, they resolve the following open question in testing bounded-degree graph: is there a \(\mathrm{poly}(1/\varepsilon)\)-query tester for planarity (and, more generality, for minor-closed graph properties)? The previous state-of-the-art, due to Levi and Ron, had a quasipolynomial dependence on \(1/\varepsilon\).
Without spoiling too much: the answer to the open question is yes— and further the authors settle it by showing an even more general result on testing \(H\)-freeness (for any constant-size graph \(H\)).

Update (05/04):

Testing Unateness Nearly Optimally, by Xi Chen and Erik Waingarten (arXiv). Recall that a function \(f\colon \{0,1\}^n\to \{0,1\}\) is said to be unate if there exists some \(s\in\{0,1\}^n\) such that \(f(\cdot \oplus s)\) is monotone; i.e., if \(f\) is either non-increasing or non-decreasing in each coordinate. Testing unateness has seen a surge of interest over the past year or so; this work essentially settles the question, up to polylogarithmic factors in \(n\) (and the exact dependence on \(\varepsilon\)). Namely, the authors present and analyze an \(\tilde{O}(n^{2/3}/\varepsilon^2)\)-query adaptive tester for unateness, which nearly matches the \(\tilde{\Omega}(n^{2/3})\)-query lower bound for adaptive testers previously established by Chen, Waingarten, and Xie.

News for March 2019

Last month was very calm. Eerily calm in fact: no property testing or related sublinear-time algorithm in view!* Gird your loins for the April batch, I reckon?

\({}^\ast\) That we saw, at least. if we missed some, please mention it in the comments below!)

Update: As mentioned in the comments, we did indeed missed two (related) works on distribution estimation from a competitive viewpoint. Namely, for a large class of properties (entropy, distance to uniformity, support size…), Hao, Orlitsky, Suresh, and Wu provide in the first paper (arXiv 1904.00070) an “instance-optimal(ish)” estimator which does “as well” with \(m/\sqrt{\log m}\) samples than the natural and naive empirical estimator would do with \(m\) (thus, in some sense, amplifying the data size). In the following paper (arXiv 1903.01432), Hao and Orlitsky improve this and remove the “ish” to get the optimal amplification \(m/\log m\).

News for February 2019

A lean month by our (now high) standards. Three papers, on local computational algorithms for spanners, sublinear set cover, and quantum distribution testing.

Local Computation Algorithms for Spanners, by Merav Parter, Ronitt Rubinfeld, Ali Vakilian, Anak Yodpinyanee (arXiv). Consider the problem of computing a \(k\)-spanner for a graph \(G\). This is a subgraph \(H\), where (for any pair of vertices) the shortest path distance in \(H\) is at most \(k\) times the corresponding distance in \(G\). A Local Computation Algorithm (LCA) essentially gives sublinear query access to (some spanner) \(H\), without any preprocessing on \(G\). In other words, an LCA takes as input an edge \((i,j)\) in \(G\), and in sublinear time says “yes” or “no”. Despite no preprocessing, it is guaranteed that all the “yes” answers form a spanner, and the number of “yes” answers is small. One of the main challenges in LCAs for graph problems is getting a polynomial dependence on \(\Delta\), the maximum degree. (Many results end up with an exponential dependence on \(\Delta\), essentially assuming bounded-degree.) This paper give an LCA outputting spanners of optimal size for \(k=3,5\), with query complexity \(n^{1-\alpha}\) (for constant \(\alpha\) depending on \(k\)). The second result works for general \(k\), but has a query complexity that is \(O(\Delta^4n^{2/3})\).

Set Cover in Sub-linear Time, by Piotr Indyk, Sepideh Mahabadi, Ronitt Rubinfeld, Ali Vakilian, Anak Yodpinyanee (arXiv). Set cover needs no introduction. This paper considers sublinear algorithms for set cover. It is convenient to think of the instance as a binary \(m \times n\) matrix, for \(m\) sets over a universe of size \(n\). The query model gives access to the \(j\)th non-zero entry in a desired column/row. The aim is this paper is to actually construct a set cover, and not just approximate its size (the latter problem with initiated in Nguyen-Onak). The first result shows a black-box conversion of any set cover algorithm into a sublinear query complexity algorithm. Any \(\alpha\)-approximation for set cover can be converted into an \(O(\alpha)\)-approximation, that makes \(O(m(n/k)^{\beta} + nk)\) (where \(k\) is the optimal set cover size, and \(\beta < 1\) depends on \(\alpha\)). For large \(k\), the paper gives an \(O(mn/k)\) query, \(O(\log n)\)-approximation algorithm. There are various lower bounds given, that show these dependencies are necessary.

Distributional Property Testing in a Quantum World by András Gilyén and Tongyang Li (arXiv). There are two aspects to quantum distribution testing. First, we can think of faster distribution testing (for classical problems) using quantum computation. Second, we can generalize the problem of distribution testing to its quantum equivalent, called density operator testing (this papers gives the first result for this quantum generalization). A distribution is a non-negative vector in \(\mathbb{R}^n\) with unit \(l_1\)-norm. The quantum generalization, a density operator, is a PSD matrix in \(\mathbb{C}^n\) with unit trace. This paper has a number of results, along both aspects. For example, for the well-known problem of testing equality of distributions under total variation distance, the papers gives an \(\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{n}/\epsilon)\) tester (an improvement over classical lower bounds). For testing equality of density operators under the same distance, the paper gives an \(O(n/\epsilon)\) tester (note that the trivial bound is \(O(n^2)\), since the operator is a matrix).

News for January 2019

Minimax Testing of Identity to a Reference Ergodic Markov Chain, by Geoffrey Wolfer and Aryeh Kontorovich (arXiv). This work studies distributional identity testing on Markov chains from a single trajectory, as recently introduced by Daskalakis, Dikkala, and Gravin: we wish to test whether a Markov chain is equal to some reference chain, or far from it. This improves on previous work by considering a stronger distance measure than before, and showing that the sample complexity only depends on properties of the reference chain (which we are trying to test identity to). It additionally proves instance-by-instance bounds (where the sample complexity depends on properties of the specific chain we wish to test identity to).

Almost Optimal Distribution-free Junta Testing, by Nader H. Bshouty (arXiv). This paper provides a \(\tilde O(k/\varepsilon)\)-query algorithm with two-sided error for testing if a Boolean function is a \(k\)-junta (that is, its value depends only on \(k\) of its variables) in the distribution-free model (where distance is measured with respect to an unknown distribution from which we can sample). This complexity is a quadratic improvement over the \(\tilde O(k^2)/\varepsilon\)-query algorithm of Chen, Liu, Servedio, Sheng, and Xie. This complexity is also near-optimal, as shown in a lower bound by Saglam (which we covered back in August).

Exponentially Faster Massively Parallel Maximal Matching, by Soheil Behnezhad, MohammadTaghi Hajiaghayi, and David G. Harris (arXiv). The authors consider maximal matching in the Massively Parallel Computation (MPC) model. They show that one can compute a maximal matching in \(O(\log \log \Delta)\)-rounds, with \(O(n)\) space per machine. This is an exponential improvement over the previous works, which required either \(\Omega(\log n)\) rounds or \(n^{1 + \Omega(1)}\) space per machine. Corollaries of their result include approximation algorithms for vertex cover, maximum matching, and weighted maximum matching.

News for December 2018

Happy near year, and best wishes to those close and \(\varepsilon\)-far! December concluded the year with 4 new preprints, spanning quite a lot of the property testing landscape:

Testing Stability Properties in Graphical Hedonic Games, by Hendrik Fichtenberger and Anja Rey (arXiv). The authors of this paper consider the problem of deciding whether a given hedonic game possesses some “coalition stability” in a property testing framework. Namely, recall that a hedonic game is a game where players (nodes) form coalitions (subsets of nodes) based on their individual preferences and local information about the considered coalition, thus resulting in a partition of the original graph.
Several notions exist to evaluate how good such a partition is, based on how “stable” the given coalitions are. This work focuses on hedonic games corresponding to bounded-degree graphs, introducing and studying the property testing question of deciding (for several such notions of stability) whether a given game admits a stable coalition structure, or is far from admitting such a partition.

Spectral methods for testing cluster structure of graphs, by Sandeep Silwal and Jonathan Tidor (arXiv). Staying among bounded-degree graphs, we turn to testing clusterability of graphs, the focus of this paper. Given an \(n\)-node graph \(G\) of degree at most \(d\) and parameters \(k, \phi\), say that \(G\) is \((k, \phi)\)-clusterable if it can be partitioned in \(k\) parts of inner conductance at least \(\phi\).
Analyzing properties of a random walk on \(G\), this work gives a bicriterion guarantee (\((k, \phi)\)-clusterable vs. \(\varepsilon\)-far from \((k, \phi^\ast)\)-clusterable, where \(\phi^\ast \approx \varepsilon^2\phi^2\)) for the case \(k=2\), improving on previous work by Czumaj, Peng, and Sohler’15.

We then switch from graphs to probability distributions with our third paper:

Inference under Information Constraints I: Lower Bounds from Chi-Square Contraction, by Jayadev Acharya, Clément Canonne, and Himanshu Tyagi (arXiv). (Disclaimer: I’m one of the authors.) In this paper, the first of an announced series of three, the authors generalize the settings of two previous works we covered here and there to consider the general question of distribution testing and learning when the \(n\) i.i.d. samples are distributed among \(n\) players, which each can only communicate their sample to the central algorithm by respecting some pre-specified local information constraint (e.g., privacy, or noise, or communication budget). This paper develops a general lower bound framework to study such questions, with a systematic focus on the power of public vs. private randomness between the \(n\) parties, and instantiate it to obtain tight bounds in the aforementioned locally private and communication-limited settings. (Spoiler: public randomness strictly helps, but not always.)

Finally, after games, graphs, and distributions, our fourth paper of the month concerns testing of functions:

Partial Function Extension with Applications to Learning and Property Testing, by Umang Bhaskar and Gunjan Kumar (arXiv). This work focuses on a problem quite related to property testing, that of partial function extension: given as input \(n\) pairs point/value from a purported function on a domain \(X\) of size \(|X| > n\), one is tasked with deciding whether there does exist (resp., with finding) a function \(f\) on \(X\) consistent with these \(n\) values which further satisfies a specific property, such as linearity or convexity. This is indeed very reminiscent of property testing, where one gets to query these \(n\) points and must decide (approximate) consistency with such a well-behaved function. Here, the authors study the computational hardness of this partial function extension problem, specifically for properties such as subadditivity and XOS (a sub-property of subadditivity); and as corollaries obtain new property testers for the classes of subadditive and XOS functions.

As usual, if you know of some work we missed from last December, let us know in the comments!

News for November 2018

Alas! Sorry for the delay, but November was a good month with five seven papers. We missed a few papers from September, so please look at the updated post for September as well. (Update: Thanks to Omri Ben-Eliezer and an anonymous poster for pointing out two missed papers.)

From Local to Robust Testing via Agreement Testing, by Irit Dinur, Tali Kaufman, and Noga Ron-Zewi (ECCC). Consider a code, which is simply a subset of \(C \subseteq \mathbb{F}^n_q\). (Typically, we think of linear codes, which form a linear subspace.) The study of locally testable codes is a rich area. Consider an input \(x \in \mathbb{F}^n_q\). A local tester for code/property \(C\) queries, according to some distribution, a subset \(K\) of \(Q\) coordinates in \(x\), and rejects if the “view” \(x|_K\) is inconsistent with any codeword. The rejection probability should be proportional to the distance of \(x\) to \(C\), denoted \(dist(x,C)\). A robust tester demands the average distance of \(x|_K\) to the corresponding property \(C|_K\) must be proportional to \(dist(x,C)\). This is a much stronger demand than that of just local testing. The main result is local testability implies robust testability for the special class of lifted codes. The proof goes via agreement testing, where an algorithm gets access to some fragments of \(x\), and must decide if these fragments are consistent with a codeword.

Testing local properties of arrays, by Omri Ben-Eliezer (ECCC). Consider a function \(f:[n]^d \to \Sigma\), where \(\Sigma\) is finite. Now, suppose we define a property \(\mathcal{P}\) with respect to a set of forbidden \([k]^d\) (consecutive) subarrays. Such a property is called \(k\)-local. The inspiration for this work is a line of research on testing of image properties. Note that for \(k=2,3\), this notion subsumes a number of properties, such as monotonicity, \(c\)-Lipschitz, submodularity, convexity, etc. The main result is a one-sided, non-adaptive tester for all such properties. Ignoring \(\epsilon, k\) dependencies, the query complexity is \(O(\log n)\) for \(d=1\) and \(O(n^{d-1})\) for \(d > 1\). Remarkably, there is no dependence on the alphabet size \(|\Sigma|\). Moreover, the bound above is optimal for one-sided, non-adaptive testers. The basic idea to pick blocks of various sizes, and query all points on the boundary. Then, the tester can determine (by sort of brute force search) if this is consistent with some function in \(\mathcal{P}\). The key is to prove that for a function that is far from \(\mathcal{P}\), there are many blocks that cannot be consistent with \(\mathcal{P}\).

Erasures vs. Errors in Local Decoding and Property Testing, by Sofya Raskhodnikova, Noga Ron-Zewi and Nithin Varma (ECCC). The main theme of this paper is the notion of erasure-resilient testing. Consider property \(\mathcal{P}\). Suppose \(\alpha\)-fraction of the coordinates of input \(x\) is hidden. Thus, queries to these coordinates of \(x\) return nothing. Our aim is to accept if there is some “filling in” of the hidden coordinates that make \(x\) satisfy \(\mathcal{P}\), and reject if for all fillings, \(x\) remains from from \(\mathcal{P}\). If \(\alpha = 0\), this is standard property testing. Suppose there exists an \((\alpha, \alpha+\epsilon)\)-tolerant tester for \(\mathcal{P}\). (I’m fudging factors a bit here for readability.) We get an \(\epsilon\)-tester with \(\alpha\)-fraction of erasures, by simply filling \(x\) in arbitrarily. So this model is in between vanilla and tolerant testing. The main result is a separation. There is a property that is constant-query testable under erasures, but requires \(n^{\Omega(1)}\) queries to tolerant test (with the above parameters). One of the main technical results is a list decoder for the Hadamard code that can tolerate erasures of any \(\alpha \lt 1\).

Domain Reduction for Monotonicity Testing: A o(d) Tester for Boolean Functions on Hypergrids, by Hadley Black, Deeparnab Chakrabarty, and C. Seshadhri (ECCC). Consider monotonicity testing of Boolean functions of the hypergrid, \(f:[n]^d \to \{0,1\}\). It is known that there are \(O(d)\) testers with complexity independent of \(n\), while for \(n=2\), there are \(o(d)\) testers. The main result is a tester with both these properties. The paper gives an \(O(d^{5/6})\) tester for such functions. The main technical ingredient is a domain reduction theorem. Consider restrictions of \(f\) to a uniform random \([poly(d\epsilon^{-1})]^d\) hypergrid. The paper proves that if \(f\) is \(\epsilon\)-far from monotone, then (with high probability) so is the restriction. Thus, for the purposes of monotonicity testing, one can simply assume that \(n = poly(d)\). This gives a black-box method to get testers independent of \(n\).

On the Testability of Graph Partition Properties, by Yonatan Nakar and Dana Ron (ECCC). Consider property testing on dense graphs. The seminar result of Goldreich-Goldwasser-Ron studies graph partitioning properties. Such a property is defined as follows. Fix constant \(k\). We wish to partition the vertices of graph \(G\) into \(V_1, V_2, \ldots, V_k\). For each \(i\), \(|V_i|/n \in [\rho^L_i, \rho^U_i]\). Furthermore, for each \(i, j\), the number of edges between \(V_i, V_j\) must be in \([\rho^L_{i,j}n^2, \rho^U_{i,j}n^2]\). (All the \(\rho\)s are parameters of the property.) This subsumes properties like \(k\)-colorability, and the classic result is a \(poly(1/\epsilon)\)-tester for these properties. Note that the edge conditions are absolute, with respect to \(n^2\), and not with respect to \(|V_i|\cdot |V_j|\). This paper allows for relative bounds of the form \([\rho^L_{i,j}|V_i|\cdot |V_j|, \rho^U_{i,j}|V_i|\cdot |V_j|]\). This is far more expressive, subsuming properties like having large cliques, or large complete bipartite graphs. One of the main results is a (two-sided) \(poly(1/\epsilon)\) tester for all such properties. Furthermore, there is a characterization of such properties that are one-sided testable in \(poly(1/\epsilon)\) queries. For such properties, it is proven that the density conditions (between \(V_i, V_j\)) must either be unconstrained or have \(\rho^L_{i,j} = \rho^U_{i,j}\) be either 1 or 0.

Limits of Ordered Graphs and Images, by Omri Ben-Eliezer, Eldar Fischer, Amit Levi, and Yuichi Yoshida (arXiv). The theory of graph limits is a deep topic, with connections to property testing, regularity lemmas, and analysis of real-world networks. Roughly speaking, consider a sequence \(\{G_n\}\) of graphs where the (relative) frequency of any fixed subgraph converges. Then, we can define a limit of the graphs, called a graphon, which is a measurable function \(W:[0,1]^2 \to [0,1]\). This paper discovers appropriate limits of ordered graphs. Note that images can be represented as ordered graphs. An ordered graph is a symmetric function \(G:[n]^2 \to \{0,1\}\) (with the trivial automorphism group). The graphon definitions and limits do not generalize here. There is a sequence of ordered graphs where the ordered subgraph frequencies converge, but one cannot associate any graphon as the limit. This paper discovered a new object called an orderon, which is a function \(W:([0,1]^2)^2 \to [0,1]\). Orderons can be shown to be the limits of sequences of ordered graphs.

Two Party Distribution Testing: Communication and Security, by Alexandr Andoni, Tal Malkin, and Negev Shekel Nosatzki (arXiv). This paper gives a new take on distribution testing. Suppose Alice and Bob have each have access to \(t\) samples from (unknown) distributions \(p\) and \(q\) respectively. Their aim is to distinguish \(p = q\) from \(\|p-q\|_{TV} > \epsilon\). How much communication is required? In the standard setting, it is known that \(n^{2/3}\) (ignoring \(\epsilon\)) is necessary and sufficient. In the communication setting, the bound turns out to basically be \(\Theta((n/t)^2)\). Observe how for \(t=n^{2/3}\), the communication is \(n^{2/3}\) (saying that Alice is simply going to send all her samples to Bob). But for larger \(t\), the communication decreases. Since Alice can learn more about her distribution, she can use sketching techniques to reduce her communication. There is an analogous result for testing independence of two distributions. Furthermore, one can even require these protocols to be secure, so Alice and Bob learn nothing about each others samples (other than the final answer).

News for October 2018

As October draws to a close, we are left with four new papers this month.

Testing Matrix Rank, Optimally, by Maria-Florina Balcan, Yi Li, David P. Woodruff, Hongyang Zhang (arXiv). This work investigates the problem of non-adaptively testing matrix properties, in both the standard query model and the more general sensing model, in which the algorithm may query the component-wise inner product of the matrix with “sensing” matrices. It proves tight upper and lower bounds of \(\tilde \Theta(d^2/\varepsilon)\) for the query model, and eliminating the dependence on \(\varepsilon\) in the sensing model. Furthermore, they introduce a bounded entry model for testing of matrices, in which the entries have absolute value bounded by 1, in which they prove various bounds for testing stable rank, Schatten-\(p\) norms, and SVD entropy.

Testing Halfspaces over Rotation-Invariant Distributions, by Nathaniel Harms (arXiv). This paper studies the problem of testing from samples whether an unknown boolean function over the hypercube is a halfspace. The algorithm requires \(\tilde O(\sqrt{n}/\varepsilon^{7})\) random samples (which has a dependence on \(n\) which is tight up to logarithmic factors) and works for any rotation-invariant distribution, generalizing previous works that require the distribution be Gaussian or uniform.

Testing Graphs in Vertex-Distribution-Free Models, by Oded Goldreich (ECCC). While distribution-free testing has been well-studied in the context of Boolean functions, it has not been significantly studied in the context of testing graphs. In this context, distribution-free roughly means that the algorithm can sample nodes of the graph according to some unknown distribution \(D\), and must be accurate with respect to the measure assigned to nodes by the same distribution. The paper investigates various properties which may be tested with a size-independent number of queries, including relationships with the complexity of testing in the standard model.

A Theory-Based Evaluation of Nearest Neighbor Models Put Into Practice, by Hendrik Fichtenberger and Dennis Rohde (arXiv). In the \(k\)-nearest neighbor problem, we are given a set of points \(P\), and the answer to a query \(q\) is the set of the \(k\) points in \(P\) which are closest to \(q\). This paper considers the following property testing formulation of the problem: given a set of points \(P\) and a graph \(G = (P,E)\), is each point \(p \in P\) connected to its \(k\)-nearest neighbors, or is it far from being a \(k\)NN graph? The authors prove upper and lower bounds on the complexity of this problem, which are both sublinear in the number of points \(n\).

News for September 2018

Last month was slower than usual, with only one property testing paper. We did miss a few papers, so hopefully this list is now up to date.

Property testing and expansion in cubical complexes, by David Garber, Uzi Vishne (arXiv). Consider the question of testing if an arbitrary function \(f\colon V\times V \to\{-1,1\}\) is of the form \(f(x,y) = h(x)h(y)\) for some \(h\colon V\to\{-1,1\}\). An intuitive one-sided test, shown to work by Lubotzky and Kaufman (2014), is to pick uniformly random \(x,y,z\in V\) and check that \(f(x,y)f(y,z)f(z,x)=1\). This paper considers the high-dimensional generalization of testing the property that a function\(f\colon V\times V \times V\times V \to\{-1,1\}\) is of the form \(f(w,x,y,z) = \alpha\cdot h(w,x)h(y,x)h(y,z) h(w,z)\), for some \(h\colon V\times V\to\{-1,1\}\) and sign \(\alpha\in\{-1,1\}\). The authors derive necessary and sufficient conditions for testability of this property, by formulating it in the language of incidence geometry and exploiting this connection.

Local Computation Algorithms for the Lovász Local Lemma, by Dimitris Achlioptas, Themis Gouleakis and Fotis Iliopoulos (arXiv). There has been significant work in the past decade on constructive versions of the Lovász Local Lemma (LLL), since the seminal work of Moser-Tardos. This paper designs news Local Computation Algorithms (LCAs) for the LLL. It’s best to consider the problem of \(k\)-SAT. Consider a \(k\)-CNF \(\phi\) with \(n\) variables, \(m\) clauses, where every variable is in at most \(d\) clauses. By the LLL, if \(d \leq 2^k/ke\), then \(\phi\) is satisfiable. An LCA would compute any bit of a satisfying assignment, by making sublinear queries into \(\phi\). This was first studied by Rubinfeld-Tamir-Vardi-Xie. Their LCA would make polylogarithmically many queries, but requires a stronger condition that what LLL achieves. This paper gives the first sublinear LCA with precisely the LLL conditions, though the number of queries is \(n^\beta\) (for \(\beta \lt 1\)). The main result is an LCA for an abstract LLL formulation, that also leads to LCAs for graph coloring. Roughly speaking, for a graph with maximum degree \(\Delta\) where all neighborhoods are sufficiently far from cliques, the LLL shows that the chromatic number bound of \(\Delta + 1\) can be beaten. This result gives an LCA for graph coloring under these LLL conditions.

Sublinear Time Low-Rank Approximation of Distance Matrices, by Ainesh Bakshi and David P. Woodruff (arXiv). Consider two sets of points \(P\) and \(Q\) in a metric space, with \(m\) and \(n\) points respectively. The \(m \times n\) distance matrix \(A\) contains all pairwise distances between them. This paper studies approximating \(A\) using a low rank representation, without reading all the entries in \(A\). The main result is as follows. For rank parameter \(k\), let \(A_k\) be the closest (by Frobenius norm) rank-\(k\)-approximation to \(A\). There is a \(O(m^{1+\gamma} + n^{1+\gamma}poly(k\epsilon^{-1}))\) (for arbitrary \(\gamma > 0\)) algorithm that outputs a rank \(k\)-matrix \(B\) with the following property: \(\|A-B\|^2_F \leq \|A-A_k\|^2_F + \epsilon \|A\|^2_F\). Interestingly, there is a lower bound showing that a \(o(mn)\) algorithm cannot get a multiplicative approximation. One technical ingredient is a method to sample column norms of \(A\), under an approximate triangle inequality constraint. This allows one to compute smaller matrices that approximate \(A\), on which one can directly compute an approximate rank-\(k\) decomposition.

On Solving Linear Systems in Sublinear Time, by Alexandr Andoni, Robert Krauthgamer, Yosef Pogrow (arXiv). Solving Laplacian linear systems is an immensely deep area, with lots of exciting recent work. This paper studies sublinear algorithms for such problems. Consider a Laplacian matrix \(L\) (think of \(I – A/d\), for adjacency matrix \(A\) of a \(d\)-regular graph). The aim is to solve \(Lx = b\), for \(x, b \in {\mathbb R}^n\). Let the solution be \(x^*\). The main result shows that one can approximate any entry in sublinear time. Specifically, for any coordinate \(i\), one can output an approximate \(\hat{x_i}\) such that \(|\hat{x_i} – x^*_i| \leq \|x^*\|_\infty\). The running time is essentially \(d\epsilon^{-2}\kappa^3\), where \(\kappa\) is a bound on the condition number of \(L\). There are generalizations for Symmetrically Diagonally Dominant (SDD) matrices, a generalization of Laplacians. There is an \(\Omega(n^{1/d^2})\) lower bound for solving general PSD systems, and a lower bound showing that \(\Omega(\kappa^2)\) queries into \(b\) are necessary.

News for August 2018

Three papers this month close out Summer 2018.

Test without Trust: Optimal Locally Private Distribution Testing, by Jayadev Acharya, Clément L. Canonne, Cody Freitag, and Himanshu Tyagi (arXiv). This work studies distribution testing in the local privacy model. While private distribution testing has recently been studied, requiring that the algorithm’s output is differentially private with respect to the input dataset, local privacy has this requirement for each individual datapoint. The authors prove optimal upper and lower bounds for identity and independence testing, using a novel public-coin protocol named RAPTOR which can outperform any private-key protocol.

Testing Graph Clusterability: Algorithms and Lower Bounds, by Ashish Chiplunkar, Michael Kapralov, Sanjeev Khanna, Aida Mousavifar, and Yuval Peres (arXiv). This paper studies the problem of testing whether a graph is \(k\)-clusterable (based on the conductance of each cluster), or if it is far from all such graphs — this is a generalization of the classical problem of testing whether a graph is an expansion. It manages to solve this problem under weaker assumptions than previously considered. Technically, prior work embedded a subset of the graph into Euclidean space and clustered based on distances between vertices. This work uses richer geometric structure, including angles between the points, in order to obtain stronger results.

Near log-convexity of measured heat in (discrete) time and consequences, by Mert Saglam (ECCC). Glancing at the title, it might not be clear how this paper relates to property testing. The primary problem of study is the quantity \(m_t = uS^tv\), where \(u, v\) are positive unit vectors and \(S\) is a symmetric substochastic matrix. This quantity can be viewed as a measurement of the heat measured at vector \(v\), after letting the initial configuration of \(u\) evolve according to \(S\) for \(t\) time steps. The author proves an inequality which roughly states \(m_{t+2} \geq t^{1 – \varepsilon} m_t^{1 + 2/t}\), which can be used as a type of log-convexity statement. Surprisingly, this leads to lower bounds for the communication complexity of the \(k\)-Hamming problem, which in turns leads to optimal lower bounds for the complexity of testing \(k\)-linearity and \(k\)-juntas.