abstracts

Monday, 27 September 1999
Michael Saks, Rutgers University
An Improved Exponentialtime Algorithm for k CNF SatisfiabilityAbstract: In this talk, I'll present and analyze a simple randomized algorithm for the satisfiability problem for kCNF formulas. For each k, the expected running time of our algorithm on any kCNF formula is significantly better than 2^n, and the bounds for general kCNF are the best known for worstcase input. In particular, on input a satisfiable 3CNF formula, the algorithm finds a satisfying assignment in time 0(1,37^n) with high probability. The best previous algorithm for 3CNF formulas had running time 0(1.49^n). (A recent new algorithm of Schoening does better than ours for 3CNF formulas, but not as well for $K$CNF formulas).
If time permits, I'll also discuss an application of our methods to circuit complexity lower bounds.
This is joint work with Mohan Paturi, Pavel Pudlak and Francis Zane.
Monday, 4 October 1999
Leonid Gurvits, NECI
Operator Scaling and Approximating the Mixed Discriminant
Abstract:
Monday, 11 October 1999
Ran Raz, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Exponential Separation of Quantum and Classical Communication Complexity, and some Geometrical Properties of the Sphere S^n
Abstract: Monday, 18 October 1999
There is no talk scheduled for this date
Monday, 25 October 1999
Eldar Fischer, Tel Aviv University
Graph Embeddings via the Regularity Lemma
Abstract: A graph embedding result is the formulation of conditions for a graph G, that ensure it contains a subgraph H with specified properties. The Regularity Lemma of Szemeredi ensures the existence of an approximation of G (by a small structure), so that most of the specific details of G conform roughly to the "typical case" with respect to the approximation.
This lemma allows the proving of graph embedding results by applying (somewhat simpler) results to the approximation of G. Results about the existence of many distinct copies of H ("abundance") in some instances where H is a fixed graph can also be proven.
Some applications of the Regularity Lemma are presented. Among them are a generalization of the result of Alon and Yuster regarding the minimum degree of G ensuring the existence of (1o(1))G/K vertex disjoint copies of a fixed graph K, and results about the existence of specified 2factors in G. A new method for using the Regularity Lemma in the context of induced subgraphs is also presented; it is used for proving results which are relevant to the testability of graph properties. Monday, 1 November 1999
There is no talk scheduled for this date
Monday, 8 November 1999
Eli BenSasson, Hebrew University
Many Hard Examples for the Polynomial Calculus
Joint work with Russell Impagliazzo, from UCSD
Abstract: A CNF formula (an AND of ORs) can be naturally encoded as a set of boolean valued polynomials, where "boolean valued" means restricting all variables to {0,1} assignments (this can be done by adding the polynomial x(1x) for each variable x).
A CNF formula is unsatisfiable <=> the set of defining polynomials has no common root <=> the polynomial 1 is in the ideal generated by these polynomials (Hilbert's Nullstelensatz).
Main Question
What is the minimal degree of the unsatisfiability proof of a set of boolean polynomials ? where a proof is a demonstration that 1 is in the ideal.
Main Answer
For a randomly chosen 3CNF, with $n$ variables and $cn$ clauses (for large enough constant c), with high probability the degree (=complexity) of the proof is linear, whenever the charactaristic of the field is > 2. This lower bound is optimal, because in the boolean case there always is a linear degree proof.
This result can be naturally stated in the Algebraic context, with no reference to "proofcomplexity".
Talk Outline
1) Proof Complexity and connections to Complexity. 2) Polynomial Calculus  motivation and definitions. 3) A complete simple proof of the main answer mentioned above, involving elementary combinatorics and elementary algebra.For those who have attended Prof. Razborov's lecture: this lecture will be a direct continuation, giving more details for a concrete example.
Main Question
What is the minimal degree of the unsatisfiability proof of a set of boolean polynomials ? where a proof is a demonstration that 1 is in the ideal.
Main Answer For a randomly chosen 3CNF, with $n$ variables and $cn$ clauses (for large enough constant c), with high probability the degree (=complexity) of the proof is linear, whenever the charactaristic of the field is > 2. This lower bound is optimal, because in the boolean case there always is a linear degree proof.
This result can be naturally stated in the Algebraic context, with no reference to "proofcomplexity".
Talk Outline
1) Proof Complexity and connections to Complexity. 2) Polynomial Calculus  motivation and definitions. 3) A complete simple proof of the main answer mentioned above, involving elementary combinatorics and elementary algebra.For those who have attended Prof. Razborov's lecture: this lecture will be a direct continuation, giving more details for a concrete example.
For those who didn't: the talk will be completely selfcontained.
Monday, 15 November 1999
Jeff Kahn, Rutgers University
Entropy, Independent Sets and Antichains
Abstract: "Dedekind's Problem" of 1897 asks for the number, say f(n), of antichains in the Boolean algebra of subsets of [n].
In 1969 Kleitman showed that log(f(n)) is asymptotic to the middle binomial coefficient (call it b(n)), and a 1975 improvement by Kleitman and Markowsky showed that the error term is not more than O(logn/n)b(n). Then Korshunov (1981) and later Sapozhenko (1989) determined the asymptotics of f(n) itself.
Proofs of the preceding results range from difficult to impenetrable. Our main goal in this talk will be to sketch an entropybased "book" proof of the KleitmanMarkowsky bound. What we actually prove is an exact bound for general graded partial orders, which, somewhat curiously, specializes to essentially KM in the case of a Boolean algebra.
Time permitting, we will also say a little about the proof of a conjecture of Benjamini, Haggstrom and Mossel on the expected range of "cubeindexed random walk."
Monday, 22 November 1999
Luca Trevisan, Columbia University
A PCP Characterization of NP with Optimal Amortized
Query Complexity
Abstract: For any epsilon>0 and any sufficiently large integer q, we present a characterization of NP in terms of a Probabilistically Checkable Proof (PCP) system where the verifier makes q queries and has error probability at most 2^{(1epsilon)q}. The tradeoff between number of queries and error probability is essentially optimal. Such a characterization gives improved (and essentially tight) nonapproximability results for Boolean constraint satisfaction problems, separation results between the power of different PCP models, and a new (simpler) proof of Hastad's nonapproximability result for the Maximum Clique problem.Our result is obtained via the following steps:
1) The introduction of a general method to perform "dependent iterations" of a basic verifier.
2) The analysis of the iterated version of a 3query "inner" verifier by Hastad.
3) The proof of a new "composition theorem" to convert the inner verifier obtained with the above steps into a PCP characterization of NP.
(Joint work with Alex Samorodnitsky and Madhu Sudan)
Monday, 29 November 1999
Leslie G. Valiant, Harvard University
Robust Logic
Abstract: It has been recognized for centuries that cognitive phenomena exhibit both inductive as well as deductive aspects. The processes of induction and deduction have been studied systematically though separately in the frameworks of computational learning and computational logic. Since cognitive computations appear to perform these processes in combination, a single framework is required within which the two can be discussed simultaneously. Robust logics are designed to serve just that purpose. They are based on the view that a knowledgebase can be made robust only if each assertion in it is verifiable empirically against and learnable from real world observations. The challenge then is to reconcile this with the advantages offered by conventional logics, in particular a sound basis for deduction. Robust logics are designed to bridge this gap while retaining computational feasibility. In this framework both the computational work as well as the accuracy of both learning and deduction are polynomially controlled.
Monday, 6 December 1999
Ehud Friedgut, MSRI and UC Berkeley
Projections of Subsets of the Discrete and Continuous Cube
Abstract: *Easy question: Can you find a subset of [0,1]^n of volume 1/2 such that every n1 dimensional projection is of volume 1/2 + O(1/n)?*Hard: Can you find such a subset of the discrete cube {0,1}^n?
*Harder: Can you find a subset of [0,1]^n for which the above is true both for the set and its complement?
All the above are questions about a notion that arises naturally in game theory, percolation theory and other settings, the notion of the influence of a variable on a Boolean function on a product space.
We will review some of the known results and concentrate on showing how the continuous case can be easily deduced from the discrete case.
Monday, 13 December 1999
Dorit Aharonov, UC Berkeley
A Quantum to Classical Phase Transition in Noisy Quantum Computers
Abstract: The fundamental problem of the transition from quantum to classical physics is usually explained by decoherence, and viewed as a gradual process. The study of entanglement, or quantum correlations, in noisy quantum computers implies that in some cases the transition from quantum to classical is actually a phase transition.I will present recent results in which it is shown that the "entanglement length" (to be defined in the talk) in noisy quantum computers exhibits a phase transition at a critical noise rate, where it transforms from infinite to finite. Above the critical noise rate, macroscopic classical behavior is expected, whereas below the critical noise rate, subsystems which are macroscopically distant one from another can be entangled. The macroscopic classical behavior in the supercritical phase is shown to hold not only for quantum computers but also for more general quantum systems. This phenomenon provides a possible explanation to the emergence of classical behavior in these systems.
I will present many open problems in various fields which are raised by this result: questions related to statistical quantum physics (eg. find critical exponents, provide renormalization group analysis, connection to other quantum phase transitions), to the foundations of quantum mechanics, to the theory of quantum error correction, to cellular automata, and more. The proof uses a map to classical percolation, and the threshold result for fault tolerant quantum computation. No prior knowledge will be assumed, except for some basic idea of what quantum computation means.
(The paper can be downloaded from this URL address: http://arXiv.org/find/quantph/1/au:+aharonov/0/1/0/past/0/1 )
Monday, 17 January 2000
Jozsef Beck, Rutgers University
The ErdosSzekeres Game
Abstract:
Monday, 24 January 2000
Alex Samorodnitsky, IAS
On the optimum of Delsarte's linear program
Abstract: We are interested in the maximal size A(n,d) of a binary error correcting code of length $n$ and distance d, or, alternatively, in the best packing of balls of radius (d1)/2 in the ndimensional Hamming space. The best known lower bound on A(n,d) is due to Gilbert and Varshamov, and is obtained by a covering argument. The best known upper bound is due to McEliece, Rodemich, Rumsey and Welch, and is obtained using Delsarte's linear programming approach. It is not known, whether this is the best possible bound one can obtain from Delsarte's linear program. We show that the optimal upper bound obtainable from Delsarte's linear program will strictly exceed the GilbertVarshamov lower bound. In fact, it will be at least as big as the average of the GilbertVarshamov bound and the McEliece, Rodemich, Rumsey and Welch upper bound. Similar results hold for constant weight binary codes.
Monday, 31 January 2000
Yuval Peres, Hebrew University
Two Erdos problems on lacunary sequences: Chromatic
number and diophantine approximation
Abstract: Let {n_k} be an increasing lacunary sequence, i.e., the ratio between successive elements is at least 1+1/M for some M. Erdos considered a graph G on the integers, where two integers are connected if their difference is in the sequence {n_k}, and asked for the chromatic number Chi(G). Y. Katznelson found a connection to a Diophantine approximation problem (also due to Erdos) and bounded Chi(G) by M^2 (with a logarithmic correction). We apply the Lovasz local lemma to this Diophantine problem, and prove that Chi(G)< CM\log(M). This is sharp up to the \log factor. Joint work with Wilhelm Schlag
Monday, 7 February 2000
Noga Alon, Tel Aviv University
Economical covers with geometric applications
Abstract: What is the typical minimum number of lines needed to separate n random points in the unit square? The study of this question leads to related problems for finite projective planes and to certain extensions of the known results about the existence of economical covers in simple uniform hypergraphs.Joint work with B. Bollobas, J. H. Kim and V. Vu.
Monday, 14 February 2000
Madhu Sudan, MIT
List decoding of errorcorrecting codes
Abstract: Errorcorrecting codes are combinatorial objects designed to deal with the problem of noise in information transmission. A code describes how to judiciously add redundancy information that recovers from a small amount of (even malicious) corruption. ``Recovery'' here is interpreted as follows: If a small number, say d, of errors occur, then it is possible to detect that errors have occurred. For an even smaller number, classically d/2, one can even find which locations are in error and fix them.
Among the simplest and yet very efficient errorcorrecting codes are codes based on properties of lowdegree polynomials, called Reed Solomon codes. In this talk we will describe a simple algorithm for recovering from error in Reed Solomon codes. One of the novel features of this algorithm is that it recovers from much more than the abovementioned bound of d/2 that classical algorithms could tolerate.
Joint work with Venkatesan Guruswami (MIT).
Tuesday, 15 February 2000
Johan Hastad, Royal Institute of Technology
Some optimal inapproximability results
Abstract: Using very efficient probabilistically checkable proofs (PCP) for NP we prove that unless NP=P, some of simple approximation algorithms for basic NPhard optimization problems are essentially optimal. In particular given a SAT formula with exactly 3 variables in each clause it is not hard to find an assignment that satisfies a fraction 7/8 of the clauses. We prove that (upto an arbitrary $\epsilon >0$) this is the best possible for a polynomial time approximation algorithm.
In this talk we concentrate on the problem of given a linear system of equations mod 2, to satisfy the maximal number of equations. This problem is easy to approximate within a factor of 2 and we prove that this is essentially tight. This result is obtained by constructing a PCP that uses logarithmic randomness, reads 3 bits in the proof and accepts based on the exclusiveor of the these bits. This proof system has completeness $1\epsilon$ and soundness $1/2+\epsilon$.
This result improves the nonapproximability constants for a number of problems, in particular for MAXCUT, MAX2SAT, MAXDICUT and VERTEX COVER.
Monday, 28 February 2000
Ronen Shaltiel, IAS
Extracting Randomness via Repeated Condensing
Abstract: Extractors are functions that allow, in some precise sense, extraction of randomness from somewhat random distributions, using only a small number of additional truly random bits. A lot of effort has been devoted to constructing explicit (polynomial time computable) extractors which use a short seed and extract as much as possible random bits. Still, explicit constructions do not achieve the parameters of the "optimal extractor", (whose existence is proven using the probabilistic method, and matches the known lower bounds).In this talk we show how to construct efficient condensers, where a condenser is a function which given a random soucre, (and a short seed) constructs a new source of smaller length which contains (roughly) the same amount of randomness as the initial source. Extractors are then constructed by repeatedly condensing the initial source.
We use these ideas to construct the following explicit extractors:
 An extractor that uses a seed of the optimal length ($O(\log n)$) and extracts
$1 / \log n$ of the initial randomess in the source.  An extractor that uses a seed of length $O(\log n \log \log n)$ and extracts any constant fraction of the initial randomness in the source.($n$ denotes the length of strings in the source).
This is joint work with Omer Reingold and Avi Wigderson
Monday, 06 March 2000
Peter Winkler, Bell Labs
Percolation and Collision
Abstract: Two tokens take simple random walks on the same graph G. The "clairvoyant demon" conjecture says that if the walks are known, then (with positive probability) they can be scheduled so that they never collide. This conjecture remains open.We show that if the tokens can be moved backward as well as forward, then they can indeed be advanced arbitrarily far without colliding. The result can be restated in terms of dependent percolation on the plane grid. For example, if the axis nodes are labelled by random numbers from 1 to 4 and nodes are destroyed when their X and Ylabels coincide, then an infinite component remains. (Similar results have been obtained independently by Ballister, Bollobas and Stacey, using a different approach.)
The original problem translates to ORIENTED percolation and remains notoriously open, even when 4 is replaced by a million. We will give some indication of what has prevented us (and perhaps others) from proving the conjecture. Finally, we will present a new percolation problem of a similar type.
Monday, 13 March 2000
Benny Sudakov, IAS/Princeton University
Max Cut and the Smallest Eigenvalue
Abstract: If G=(V,E) is an undirected graph, and S is a nonempty proper subset of V, then (S,VS) denotes the cut consisting of all edges with one end in S and another one in VS. The MAX CUT problem is the problem of finding a cut of maximum size in G.
Monday, 27 March 2000
Andrew Yao, Princeton University
On Quantum Complexity of Graph Properties
Abstract: For any boolean function f of n variables, let D(f) be the minimum number of variables needed to be examined by any decision tree computing f, and let Q(f) be its quantum analogue with an epsilon error permitted. It has been conjectured that the quantum speed up obtainable is at most quadratic, ie, Q(f) \geq D(f)^1/2, which in particular would imply Q(f) \geq n for any nontrivial monotone nvertex graph property f. In this talk we take a step towards resolving this latter conjecture by proving Q(f) \geq n^2/3 for all such f. We also discuss the quantum complexity of specific graph properties; for example, we show that Q(f) = n^{3/2} where f(G) = 1 if and only if G has an even number of connected components.
Monday, 03 April 2000
Russell Impagliazzo, UC San Diego
Convex complexity measures
Abstract: We don't know whether NPcomplete problems have exponential complexities, polynomial complexities or something inbetween. In fact, it is conceivable that the complexity varies as the input size changes, alternating between polynomial and exponential complexity. Thus, whether for practical purposes $P=NP$ holds might in some sense be dependent on the technology level.
Monday, 17 April 2000
Alexander Razborov, IAS/Princeton University
Pseudorandom Generators in Propositional Proof Complexity
Abstract:
Monday, 24 April 2000
Bela Bollobas, Memphis and Cambridge
Polynomial Invariants of Graphs On Surfaces
Abstract:
Monday, 01 May 2000
Gregory Freiman, Tel Aviv University
Analytical Methods in Integer Programming
Abstract: The present reseach is dedicated to the development of a structural approach to Integer Programming and is based on the application of analytical methods of Additive Number Theory. Important case of "dense" problems is discussed when the size of domain of a function is greater than the range of this function. Algorithms were designed which are in many cases linear O(m), m being the number of unknowns.
Monday, 08 May 2000
Omer Reingold, AT&T and IAS
Selective Decommitment, Magic Functions and 3Round
ZeroKnowledge
Abstract: The foundation of cryptography has provided powerful primitives and protocols. Unfortunately, in some cases, their behavior under composition is still poorly understood. This may lead to very undesirable consequences. Consider for example a merchant putting the encryptions of one hundred songs on a CD. This CD is provided for free and the decryption key of each individual song can be purchased over the Internet. It turns out that our current knowledge cannot even rule out the unfortunate situation where a customer can select fifty encryptions to be opened (songs to be purchased) and extract (steal) a fiftyfirst song.Joint work with Cynthia Dwork, Moni Naor and Larry Stockmeyer