# Journal of the ACM

Published by Association for Computing Machinery

Online ISSN: 0004-5411

Published by Association for Computing Machinery

Online ISSN: 0004-5411

Publications

Conference Paper

We study adding aggregate operators, such as summing up elements of a column of a relation, to logics with counting mechanisms. The primary motivation comes from database applications, where aggregate operators are present in all real life query languages. Unlike other features of query languages, aggregates are not adequately captured by the existing logical formalisms. Consequently, all previous approaches to analyzing the expressive power of aggregation were only capable of producing partial results, depending on the allowed class of aggregate and arithmetic operations. We consider a powerful counting logic, and extend it with the set of all aggregate operators. We show that the resulting logic satisfies analogs of Hanf's and Gaifman's theorems, meaning that it can only express local properties. We consider a database query language that expresses all the standard aggregates found in commercial query languages, and show how it can be translated into the aggregate logic, thereby providing a number of expressivity bounds, that do not depend on a particular class of arithmetic functions, and that subsume all those previously known. We consider a restricted aggregate logic that gives us a tighter capture of database languages, end also use it to show that some questions on expressivity of aggregation cannot be answered without resolving some deep problems in complexity theory

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Conference Paper

A solution to the problem of automatic location of objects in digital pictures by computer is presented. A self-scaling local edge detector which can be applied in parallel on a picture is described. Clustering algorithms and boundary following algorithms which are sequential in nature process the edge data to locate images of objects.

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Conference Paper

We initiate a graph-theoretic approach to study the (information-theoretic) maintenance of privacy in distributed environments in the presence of a bounded number of mobile eavesdroppers (“bugs”). For two fundamental privacy problems-secure message transmission and distributed database maintenance-we assume an adversary is “playing eavesdropping games,” coordinating the movement of the bugs among the sites to learn the current memory contents. We consider various mobility settings (adversaries), motivated by the capabilities (strength) of the bugging technologies (e.g., how fast can a bug be reassigned). We combinatorially characterize and compare privacy maintenance problems, determine their feasibility (under numerous bug models), suggest protocols for the feasible cases, and analyze their computational complexity

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Conference Paper

A fast randomized algorithm is given for finding a partition of the plane induced by a given set of linear segments. The algorithm is ideally suited for a practical use because it is extremely simple and robust, as well as optimal; its expected running time is O( m + n log n ) where n is the number of input segments and m is the number of points of intersection. The storage requirement is O( m + n ). Though the algorithm itself is simple, the global evolution of the partition is complex, which makes the analysis of the algorithm theoretically interesting in its own right

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Conference Paper

We introduce a temporal logic for the specification of real-time systems. Our logic, TPTL, employs a novel quantifier construct for referencing time: the freeze quantifier binds a variable to the time of the local temporal context.
TPTL is both a natural language for specification and a suitable formalism for verification. We present a tableau-based decision procedure and a model-checking algorithm for TPTL. Several generalizations of TPTL are shown to be highly undecidable.

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Conference Paper

We study routing and scheduling in packet-switched networks. We assume an adversary that controls the injection time, source, and destination for each packet injected. A set of paths for these packets is admissible if no link in the network is overloaded. We present the first on-line routing algorithm that finds a set of admissible paths whenever this is feasible. Our algorithm calculates a path for each packet as soon as it is injected at its source using a simple shortest path computation. The length of a link reflects its current congestion. We also show how our algorithm can be implemented under today's Internet routing paradigms. When the paths are known (either given by the adversary or computed as above) our goal is to schedule the packets along the given paths so that the packets experience small end-to-end delays. The best previous delay bounds for deterministic and distributed scheduling protocols were exponential in the path length. In this paper we present the first deterministic and distributed scheduling protocol that guarantees a polynomial end-to-end delay for every packet. Finally, we discuss the effects of combining routing with scheduling. We first show that some, unstable scheduling protocols remain unstable no matter how the paths are chosen. However, the freedom to choose paths can make a difference. For example, we show that a ring with parallel links is stable for all greedy scheduling protocols if paths are chosen intelligently, whereas this is not the case if the adversary specifies the paths.

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Conference Paper

The communication complexity of zero-knowledge proof systems is improved. Let C be a Boolean circuit of size n . Previous zero-knowledge proof systems for the satisfiability of C require the use of Ω( kn ) bit commitments in order to achieve a probability of undetected cheating not greater than 2<sup>-k</sup>. In the case k = n , the communication complexity of these protocols is therefore Ω( n <sup>2</sup>) bit commitments. A zero-knowledge proof is given for achieving the same goal with only O( n <sup>m</sup>+ k √ n <sup>m</sup>) bit commitments, where m =1+ε<sub>n</sub> and ε<sub>n</sub> goes to zero as n goes to infinity. In the case k = n , this is O ( n √ n <sup>m</sup>). Moreover, only O ( k ) commitments need ever be opened, which is interesting if committing to a bit is significantly less expensive than opening a commitment

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Article

Call a semantics for a language with variables absolute when variables map to fixed entities in the denotation. That is, a semantics is absolute when the denotation of a variable a is a copy of itself in the denotation.
We give a trio of lattice-based, sets-based, and algebraic absolute semantics to first-order logic. Possibly open predicates are directly interpreted as lattice elements/sets/algebra elements, subject to suitable interpretations of the connectives and quantifiers. In particular, universal quantification ∀a.&phis; is interpreted using a new notion of “fresh-finite” limit &bigwedge #a ⟦&phi⟧ and using a novel dual to substitution.
The interest in this semantics is partly in the nontrivial and beautiful technical details, which also offer certain advantages over existing semantics. Also, the fact that such semantics exist at all suggests a new way of looking at variables and the foundations of logic and computation, which may be well suited to the demands of modern computer science.

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Conference Paper

We give a dichotomy theorem for the problem of counting homomorphisms to directed acyclic graphs. H is a fixed directed acyclic graph. The problem is, given an input digraph G, to determine how many homomorphisms there are from G to H. We give a graph-theoretic classification, showing that for some digraphs H, the problem is in P and for the rest of the digraphs H the problem is #P-complete. An interesting feature of the dichotomy, absent from related dichotomy results, is the rich supply
of tractable graphsH with complex structure.

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Article

We present a near-optimal reduction from approximately counting the cardinality of a discrete set to approximately sampling elements of the set. An important application of our work is to approximating the partition function Z of a discrete system, such as the Ising model, matchings or colorings of a graph. The typical approach to estimating the partition function Z (β * ) at some desired inverse temperature β * is to define a sequence, which we call a cooling schedule , β 0 = 0 < β 1 < … < β ℓ = β * where Z(0) is trivial to compute and the ratios Z (β i +1 )/ Z (β i ) are easy to estimate by sampling from the distribution corresponding to Z (β i ). Previous approaches required a cooling schedule of length O * (ln A ) where A = Z (0), thereby ensuring that each ratio Z (β i +1 )/ Z (β i ) is bounded. We present a cooling schedule of length ℓ = O * (√ ln A ).
For well-studied problems such as estimating the partition function of the Ising model, or approximating the number of colorings or matchings of a graph, our cooling schedule is of length O * (√ n ), which implies an overall savings of O * ( n ) in the running time of the approximate counting algorithm (since roughly ℓ samples are needed to estimate each ratio).
A similar improvement in the length of the cooling schedule was recently obtained by Lovász and Vempala in the context of estimating the volume of convex bodies. While our reduction is inspired by theirs, the discrete analogue of their result turns out to be significantly more difficult. Whereas a fixed schedule suffices in their setting, we prove that in the discrete setting we need an adaptive schedule, that is, the schedule depends on Z . More precisely, we prove any nonadaptive cooling schedule has length at least O * (ln A ), and we present an algorithm to find an adaptive schedule of length O * (√ ln A ).

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Article

We describe an algorithm for Byzantine agreement that is scalable in the sense that each processor sends only $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{n})$ bits, where $n$ is the total number of processors. Our algorithm succeeds with high probability against an \emph{adaptive adversary}, which can take over processors at any time during the protocol, up to the point of taking over arbitrarily close to a 1/3 fraction. We assume synchronous communication but a \emph{rushing} adversary. Moreover, our algorithm works in the presence of flooding: processors controlled by the adversary can send out any number of messages. We assume the existence of private channels between all pairs of processors but make no other cryptographic assumptions. Finally, our algorithm has latency that is polylogarithmic in $n$. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first algorithm to solve Byzantine agreement against an adaptive adversary, while requiring $o(n^{2})$ total bits of communication.

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Article

We present a framework for approximating the metric TSP based on a novel use of matchings. Traditionally, matchings have been used to add edges in order to make a given graph Eulerian, whereas our approach also allows for the removal of certain edges leading to a decreased cost.
For the TSP on graphic metrics (graph-TSP), we show that the approach gives a 1.461-approximation algorithm with respect to the Held-Karp lower bound. For graph-TSP restricted either to half-integral solutions to the Held-Karp relaxation or to a class of graphs that contains subcubic and claw-free graphs, we show that the integrality gap of the Held-Karp relaxation matches the conjectured ratio 4/3. The framework also allows for generalizations in a natural way and leads to analogous results for the s,t-path traveling salesman problem on graphic metrics where the start and end vertices are prespecified.

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Article

We show that there exists a graph $G$ with $O(n)$ nodes, where any forest of
$n$ nodes is a node-induced subgraph of $G$. Furthermore, for constant
arboricity $k$, the result implies the existence of a graph with $O(n^k)$ nodes
that contains all $n$-node graphs as node-induced subgraphs, matching a
$\Omega(n^k)$ lower bound. The lower bound and previously best upper bounds
were presented in Alstrup and Rauhe (FOCS'02). Our upper bounds are obtained
through a $\log_2 n +O(1)$ labeling scheme for adjacency queries in forests.
We hereby solve an open problem being raised repeatedly over decades, e.g. in
Kannan, Naor, Rudich (STOC 1988), Chung (J. of Graph Theory 1990), Fraigniaud
and Korman (SODA 2010).

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Article

We investigate inductive types in type theory, using the insights provided by
homotopy type theory and univalent foundations of mathematics. We do so by
introducing the new notion of a homotopy-initial algebra. This notion is
defined by a purely type-theoretic contractibility condition which replaces the
standard, category-theoretic universal property involving the existence and
uniqueness of appropriate morphisms. Our main result characterises the types
that are equivalent to W-types as homotopy-initial algebras.

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Chapter

Given an off-line sequence S of n set-manipulation operations, we investigate the parallel complexity of evaluating S (i.e. finding the response to every operation in S and returning the resulting set). We show that the problem of evaluating S is in NC for various combinations of common set-manipulation operations. Once we establish membership in NC (or, if membershp
in NC is obvious), we develop techniques for improving the time and/or processor complexity.

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Article

The restless bandit problem is one of the most well-studied generalizations of the celebrated stochastic multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem in decision theory. In its ultimate generality, the restless bandit problem is known to be PSPACE-Hard to approximate to any nontrivial factor, and little progress has been made on this problem despite its significance in modeling activity allocation under uncertainty.
In this article, we consider the Feedback MAB problem, where the reward obtained by playing each of n independent arms varies according to an underlying on/off Markov process whose exact state is only revealed when the arm is played. The goal is to design a policy for playing the arms in order to maximize the infinite horizon time average expected reward. This problem is also an instance of a Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP), and is widely studied in wireless scheduling and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) routing. Unlike the stochastic MAB problem, the Feedback MAB problem does not admit to greedy index-based optimal policies.
We develop a novel duality-based algorithmic technique that yields a surprisingly simple and intuitive (2+ϵ)-approximate greedy policy to this problem. We show that both in terms of approximation factor and computational efficiency, our policy is closely related to the Whittle index , which is widely used for its simplicity and efficiency of computation. Subsequently we define a multi-state generalization, that we term Monotone bandits, which remains subclass of the restless bandit problem. We show that our policy remains a 2-approximation in this setting, and further, our technique is robust enough to incorporate various side-constraints such as blocking plays, switching costs, and even models where determining the state of an arm is a separate operation from playing it.
Our technique is also of independent interest for other restless bandit problems, and we provide an example in nonpreemptive machine replenishment. Interestingly, in this case, our policy provides a constant factor guarantee, whereas the Whittle index is provably polynomially worse.
By presenting the first O(1) approximations for nontrivial instances of restless bandits as well as of POMDPs, our work initiates the study of approximation algorithms in both these contexts.

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Article

We introduce the smoothed analysis of algorithms, which continuously interpolates between the worst-case and average-case analyses of algorithms. In smoothed analysis, we measure the maximum over inputs of the expected performance of an algorithm under small random perturbations of that input. We measure this performance in terms of both the input size and the magnitude of the perturbations. We show that the simplex algorithm has smoothed complexity polynomial in the input size and the standard deviation of Gaussian perturbations.

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Article

We consider the problem of computing the rank of an m x n matrix A over a
field. We present a randomized algorithm to find a set of r = rank(A) linearly
independent columns in \~O(|A| + r^\omega) field operations, where |A| denotes
the number of nonzero entries in A and \omega < 2.38 is the matrix
multiplication exponent. Previously the best known algorithm to find a set of r
linearly independent columns is by Gaussian elimination, with running time
O(mnr^{\omega-2}). Our algorithm is faster when r < max(m,n), for instance when
the matrix is rectangular. We also consider the problem of computing the rank
of a matrix dynamically, supporting the operations of rank one updates and
additions and deletions of rows and columns. We present an algorithm that
updates the rank in \~O(mn) field operations. We show that these algorithms can
be used to obtain faster algorithms for various problems in numerical linear
algebra, combinatorial optimization and dynamic data structure.

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Article

We introduce the smoothed analysis of algorithms, which continuously interpolates between the worst-case and average-case analyses of algorithms. In smoothed analysis, we measure the maximum over inputs of the expected performance of an algorithm under small random perturbations of that input. We measure this performance in terms of both the input size and the magnitude of the perturbations. We show that the simplex algorithm has smoothed complexity polynomial in the input size and the standard deviation of Gaussian perturbations.

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Article

A framework is proposed for the design and analysis of
\emph{network-oblivious algorithms}, namely, algorithms that can run unchanged,
yet efficiently, on a variety of machines characterized by different degrees of
parallelism and communication capabilities. The framework prescribes that a
network-oblivious algorithm be specified on a parallel model of computation
where the only parameter is the problem's input size, and then evaluated on a
model with two parameters, capturing parallelism granularity and communication
latency. It is shown that, for a wide class of network-oblivious algorithms,
optimality in the latter model implies optimality in the Decomposable BSP
model, which is known to effectively describe a wide and significant class of
parallel platforms. The proposed framework can be regarded as an attempt to
port the notion of obliviousness, well established in the context of cache
hierarchies, to the realm of parallel computation. Its effectiveness is
illustrated by providing optimal network-oblivious algorithms for a number of
key problems. Some limitations of the oblivious approach are also discussed.

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Article

Today’s hardware technology presents a new challenge in designing robust systems. Deep submicron VLSI technology introduces transient and permanent faults that were never considered in low-level system designs in the past. Still, robustness of that part of the system is crucial and needs to be guaranteed for any successful product. Distributed systems, on the other hand, have been dealing with similar issues for decades. However, neither the basic abstractions nor the complexity of contemporary fault-tolerant distributed algorithms match the peculiarities of hardware implementations.
This article is intended to be part of an attempt striving to bridge over this gap between theory and practice for the clock synchronization problem. Solving this task sufficiently well will allow to build an ultra-robust high-precision clocking system for hardware designs like systems-on-chips in critical applications. As our first building block, we describe and prove correct a novel distributed, Byzantine fault-tolerant, probabilistically self-stabilizing pulse synchronization protocol, called FATAL, that can be implemented using standard asynchronous digital logic: Correct FATAL nodes are guaranteed to generate pulses (i.e., unnumbered clock ticks) in a synchronized way, despite a certain fraction of nodes being faulty. FATAL uses randomization only during stabilization and, despite the strict limitations introduced by hardware designs, offers optimal resilience and smaller complexity than all existing protocols. Finally, we show how to leverage FATAL to efficiently generate synchronized, self-stabilizing, high-frequency clocks.

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Article

In the maximum constraint satisfaction problem (MAX CSP), one is given a finite collection of (possibly weighted) constraints on overlapping sets of variables, and the goal is to assign values from a given finite domain to the variables so as to maximize the number (or the total weight, for the weighted case) of satisfied constraints. This problem is NP-hard in general, and, therefore, it is natural to study how restricting the allowed types of constraints affects the approximability of the problem. In this paper, we show that any MAX CSP problem with a finite set of allowed constraint types, which includes all fixed-value constraints (i.e., constraints of the form x=a), is either solvable exactly in polynomial-time or else is APX-complete, even if the number of occurrences of variables in instances are bounded. Moreover, we present a simple description of all polynomial-time solvable cases of our problem. This description relies on the well-known algebraic combinatorial property of supermodularity.

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Article

We consider the problem of coloring k-colorable graphs with the fewest possible colors. We present a randomized polynomial time algorithm that colors a 3-colorable graph on $n$ vertices with min O(Delta^{1/3} log^{1/2} Delta log n), O(n^{1/4} log^{1/2} n) colors where Delta is the maximum degree of any vertex. Besides giving the best known approximation ratio in terms of n, this marks the first non-trivial approximation result as a function of the maximum degree Delta. This result can be generalized to k-colorable graphs to obtain a coloring using min O(Delta^{1-2/k} log^{1/2} Delta log n), O(n^{1-3/(k+1)} log^{1/2} n) colors. Our results are inspired by the recent work of Goemans and Williamson who used an algorithm for semidefinite optimization problems, which generalize linear programs, to obtain improved approximations for the MAX CUT and MAX 2-SAT problems. An intriguing outcome of our work is a duality relationship established between the value of the optimum solution to our semidefinite program and the Lovasz theta-function. We show lower bounds on the gap between the optimum solution of our semidefinite program and the actual chromatic number; by duality this also demonstrates interesting new facts about the theta-function.

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Article

Some important classical mechanisms considered in Microeconomics and Game Theory require the solution of a difficult optimization problem. This is true of mechanisms for combinatorial auctions, which have in recent years assumed practical importance, and in particular of the gold standard for combinatorial auctions, the Generalized Vickrey Auction (GVA). Traditional analysis of these mechanisms - in particular, their truth revelation properties - assumes that the optimization problems are solved precisely. In reality, these optimization problems can usually be solved only in an approximate fashion. We investigate the impact on such mechanisms of replacing exact solutions by approximate ones. Specifically, we look at a particular greedy optimization method. We show that the GVA payment scheme does not provide for a truth revealing mechanism. We introduce another scheme that does guarantee truthfulness for a restricted class of players. We demonstrate the latter property by identifying natural properties for combinatorial auctions and showing that, for our restricted class of players, they imply that truthful strategies are dominant. Those properties have applicability beyond the specific auction studied.

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Conference Paper

We take a dual view of Markov processes – advocated by Kozen – as transformers of bounded measurable functions. We redevelop
the theory of labelled Markov processes from this view point, in particular we explore approximation theory. We obtain three
main results:
(i) It is possible to define bisimulation on general measure spaces and show that it is an equivalence relation. The logical
characterization of bisimulation can be done straightforwardly and generally. (ii) A new and flexible approach to approximation
based on averaging can be given. This vastly generalizes and streamlines the idea of using conditional expectations to compute
approximation. (iii) It is possible to show that there is a minimal bisimulation equivalent to a process obtained as the limit
of the finite approximants.

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Article

In the study of deterministic distributed algorithms it is commonly assumed that each node has a unique O(log n)-bit identifier. We prove that for a general class of graph problems, local algorithms (constant-time distributed algorithms) do not need such identifiers: a port numbering and orientation is sufficient.
Our result holds for so-called simple PO-checkable graph optimisation problems; this includes many classical packing and covering problems such as vertex covers, edge covers, matchings, independent sets, dominating sets, and edge dominating sets. We focus on the case of bounded-degree graphs and show that if a local algorithm finds a constant-factor approximation of a simple PO-checkable graph problem with the help of unique identifiers, then the same approximation ratio can be achieved on anonymous networks.
As a corollary of our result and by prior work, we derive a tight lower bound on the local approximability of the minimum edge dominating set problem.
Our main technical tool is an algebraic construction of homogeneously ordered graphs: We say that a graph is (α,r)-homogeneous if its nodes are linearly ordered so that an α fraction of nodes have pairwise isomorphic radius-r neighbourhoods. We show that there exists a finite (α,r)-homogeneous 2k-regular graph of girth at least g for any αr, k, and g.

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Article

The Chow parameters of a Boolean function f:{−1, 1}ⁿ → {−1, 1} are its n+1 degree-0 and degree-1 Fourier coefficients. It has been known since 1961 [Chow 1961; Tannenbaum 1961] that the (exact values of the) Chow parameters of any linear threshold function f uniquely specify f within the space of all Boolean functions, but until recently [O'Donnell and Servedio 2011] nothing was known about efficient algorithms for reconstructing f (exactly or approximately) from exact or approximate values of its Chow parameters. We refer to this reconstruction problem as the Chow Parameters Problem.
Our main result is a new algorithm for the Chow Parameters Problem which, given (sufficiently accurate approximations to) the Chow parameters of any linear threshold function f, runs in time Õ(n²) ⋅ (1/ε)O(log²(1/ε)) and with high probability outputs a representation of an LTF f′ that is ε-close to f in Hamming distance. The only previous algorithm [O'Donnell and Servedio 2011] had running time poly(n) ⋅ 22Õ(1/ε²).
As a byproduct of our approach, we show that for any linear threshold function f over {-1, 1}ⁿ, there is a linear threshold function f′ which is ε-close to f and has all weights that are integers of magnitude at most √n ⋅ (1/ε)O(log²(1/ε)). This significantly improves the previous best result of Diakonikolas and Servedio [2009] which gave a poly(n) ⋅ 2Õ(1/ε2/3) weight bound, and is close to the known lower bound of max{√n, (1/ε)Ω(log log (1/ε))} [Goldberg 2006; Servedio 2007]. Our techniques also yield improved algorithms for related problems in learning theory.
In addition to being significantly stronger than previous work, our results are obtained using conceptually simpler proofs. The two main ingredients underlying our results are (1) a new structural result showing that for f any linear threshold function and g any bounded function, if the Chow parameters of f are close to the Chow parameters of g then f is close to g; (2) a new boosting-like algorithm that given approximations to the Chow parameters of a linear threshold function outputs a bounded function whose Chow parameters are close to those of f.

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Article

We give a test that can distinguish efficiently between product states of n quantum systems and states that are far from product. If applied to a state |ψ〉 whose maximum overlap with a product state is 1 − ε, the test passes with probability 1 − Θ(ε), regardless of n or the local dimensions of the individual systems. The test uses two copies of |ψ〉. We prove correctness of this test as a special case of a more general result regarding stability of maximum output purity of the depolarizing channel.
A key application of the test is to quantum Merlin-Arthur games with multiple Merlins, where we obtain several structural results that had been previously conjectured, including the fact that efficient soundness amplification is possible and that two Merlins can simulate many Merlins: QMA(k) = QMA(2) for k ≥ 2. Building on a previous result of Aaronson et al., this implies that there is an efficient quantum algorithm to verify 3-SAT with constant soundness, given two unentangled proofs of Õ(√n) qubits. We also show how QMA(2) with log-sized proofs is equivalent to a large number of problems, some related to quantum information (such as testing separability of mixed states) as well as problems without any apparent connection to quantum mechanics (such as computing injective tensor norms of 3-index tensors). As a consequence, we obtain many hardness-of-approximation results, as well as potential algorithmic applications of methods for approximating QMA(2) acceptance probabilities.
Finally, our test can also be used to construct an efficient test for determining whether a unitary operator is a tensor product, which is a generalization of classical linearity testing.

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Article

Asynchronous methods for solving systems of linear equations have been
researched since Chazan and Miranker published their pioneering paper on
chaotic relaxation in 1969. The underlying idea of asynchronous methods is to
avoid processor idle time by allowing the processors to continue to work and
make progress even if not all progress made by other processors has been
communicated to them.
Historically, work on asynchronous methods for solving linear equations
focused on proving convergence in the limit. How the rate of convergence
compares to the rate of convergence of the synchronous counterparts, and how it
scales when the number of processors increase, was seldom studied and is still
not well understood. Furthermore, the applicability of these methods was
limited to restricted classes of matrices (e.g., diagonally dominant matrices).
We propose a randomized shared-memory asynchronous method for general
symmetric positive definite matrices. We rigorously analyze the convergence
rate and prove that it is linear and close to that of our method's synchronous
counterpart as long as not too many processors are used (relative to the size
and sparsity of the matrix). Our analysis presents a significant improvement,
both in convergence analysis and in the applicability, of asynchronous linear
solvers, and suggests randomization as a key paradigm to serve as a foundation
for asynchronous methods thereof.

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Conference Paper

We characterize the complexity of the safety verification problem for parameterized systems consisting of a leader process and arbitrarily many anonymous and identical contributors. Processes communicate through a shared, bounded-value register. While each operation on the register is atomic, there is no synchronization primitive to execute a sequence of operations atomically.
We analyze the complexity of the safety verification problem when processes are modeled by finite-state machines, pushdown machines, and Turing machines. The problem is coNP-complete when all processes are finite-state machines, and is PSPACE-complete when they are pushdown machines. The complexity remains coNP-complete when each Turing machine is allowed boundedly many interactions with the register. Our proofs use combinatorial characterizations of computations in the model, and in case of pushdown-systems, some language-theoretic constructions of independent interest.

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Article

A long-standing open question in algorithmic mechanism design is whether there exist computationally efficient truthful mechanisms for combinatorial auctions, with performance guarantees close to those possible without considerations of truthfulness. In this article, we answer this question negatively: the requirement of truthfulness can impact dramatically the ability of a mechanism to achieve a good approximation ratio for combinatorial auctions.
More precisely, we show that every universally truthful randomized mechanism for combinatorial auctions with submodular valuations that approximates optimal social welfare within a factor of m1/2−ε must use exponentially many value queries, where m is the number of items. Furthermore, we show that there exists a class of succinctly represented submodular valuation functions, for which the existence of a universally truthful polynomial-time mechanism that provides an m1/2−ε-approximation would imply NP = RP. In contrast, ignoring truthfulness, there exist constant-factor approximation algorithms for this problem, and ignoring computational efficiency, the VCG mechanism is truthful and provides optimal social welfare. These are the first hardness results for truthful polynomial-time mechanisms for any type of combinatorial auctions, even for deterministic mechanisms.
Our approach is based on a novel direct hardness technique that completely skips the notoriously hard step of characterizing truthful mechanisms. The characterization step was the main obstacle for proving impossibility results in algorithmic mechanism design so far.

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Conference Paper

A central computational problem for analyzing and model checking various classes of infinite-state recursive probabilistic systems (including quasi-birth-death processes, multi-type branching processes, stochastic context-free grammars, probabilistic pushdown automata and recursive Markov chains) is the computation of termination probabilities, and computing these probabilities in turn boils down to computing the least fixed point (LFP) solution of a corresponding monotone polynomial system (MPS) of equations, denoted x = P(x).
It was shown by Etessami and Yannakakis [11] that a decomposed variant of Newton’s method converges monotonically to the LFP solution for any MPS that has a non-negative solution. Subsequently, Esparza, Kiefer, and Luttenberger [7] obtained upper bounds on the convergence rate of Newton’s method for certain classes of MPSs. More recently, better upper bounds have been obtained for special classes of MPSs ([10, 9]).
However, prior to this paper, for arbitrary (not necessarily strongly-connected) MPSs, no upper bounds at all were known on the convergence rate of Newton’s method as a function of the encoding size |P| of the input MPS, x = P(x).
In this paper we provide worst-case upper bounds, as a function of both the input encoding size |P|, and ε > 0, on the number of iterations required for decomposed Newton’s method (even with rounding) to converge to within additive error ε > 0 of q
*, for an arbitrary MPS with LFP solution q
*. Our upper bounds are essentially optimal in terms of several important parameters of the problem.
Using our upper bounds, and building on prior work, we obtain the first P-time algorithm (in the standard Turing model of computation) for quantitative model checking, to within arbitrary desired precision, of discrete-time QBDs and (equivalently) probabilistic 1-counter automata, with respect to any (fixed) ω-regular or LTL property.

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Article

We show that there exists an infinite word over the alphabet {0, 1, 3, 4}
containing no three consecutive blocks of the same size and the same sum. This
answers an open problem of Pirillo and Varricchio from 1994.

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Article

We study statistical risk minimization problems under a privacy model in which the data is kept confidential even from the learner. In this local privacy framework, we establish sharp upper and lower bounds on the convergence rates of statistical estimation procedures. As a consequence, we exhibit a precise tradeoff between the amount of privacy the data preserves and the utility, as -measured by convergence rate, of any statistical estimator or learning procedure. Categories and Subject Descriptors: G.1.6 [Numerical Analysis]: Optimization Convex programming; gradient methods; G.8 [Probability and Statistics]: Nonparametric statistics; H.1.1 [Models and Principles]: Systems and information Theory Information theory; 1.2.6 [Artificial Intelligence]: Learning-Parameter learning; K.4.1 [Computers and Society]: Public Policy issue - Privacy

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Article

In a multi-armed bandit problem, an online algorithm chooses from a set of
strategies in a sequence of trials so as to maximize the total payoff of the
chosen strategies. While the performance of bandit algorithms with a small
finite strategy set is quite well understood, bandit problems with large
strategy sets are still a topic of very active investigation, motivated by
practical applications such as online auctions and web advertisement. The goal
of such research is to identify broad and natural classes of strategy sets and
payoff functions which enable the design of efficient solutions.
In this work we study a very general setting for the multi-armed bandit
problem in which the strategies form a metric space, and the payoff function
satisfies a Lipschitz condition with respect to the metric. We refer to this
problem as the "Lipschitz MAB problem". We present a solution for the
multi-armed bandit problem in this setting. That is, for every metric space we
define an isometry invariant which bounds from below the performance of
Lipschitz MAB algorithms for this metric space, and we present an algorithm
which comes arbitrarily close to meeting this bound. Furthermore, our technique
gives even better results for benign payoff functions. We also address the
full-feedback ("best expert") version of the problem, where after every round
the payoffs from all arms are revealed.

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Article

We present the nested Chinese restaurant process (nCRP), a stochastic process which assigns probability distributions to infinitely-deep, infinitely-branching trees. We show how this stochastic process can be used as a prior distribution in a Bayesian nonparametric model of document collections. Specifically, we present an application to information retrieval in which documents are modeled as paths down a random tree, and the preferential attachment dynamics of the nCRP leads to clustering of documents according to sharing of topics at multiple levels of abstraction. Given a corpus of documents, a posterior inference algorithm finds an approximation to a posterior distribution over trees, topics and allocations of words to levels of the tree. We demonstrate this algorithm on collections of scientific abstracts from several journals. This model exemplifies a recent trend in statistical machine learning--the use of Bayesian nonparametric methods to infer distributions on flexible data structures.

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Article

We present a new approach for inference in Bayesian networks, which is mainly
based on partial differentiation. According to this approach, one compiles a
Bayesian network into a multivariate polynomial and then computes the partial
derivatives of this polynomial with respect to each variable. We show that once
such derivatives are made available, one can compute in constant-time answers
to a large class of probabilistic queries, which are central to classical
inference, parameter estimation, model validation and sensitivity analysis. We
present a number of complexity results relating to the compilation of such
polynomials and to the computation of their partial derivatives. We argue that
the combined simplicity, comprehensiveness and computational complexity of the
presented framework is unique among existing frameworks for inference in
Bayesian networks.

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Article

Understanding the structure of the Internet graph is a crucial step for building accurate network models and designing efficient algorithms for Internet applications. Yet, obtaining its graph structure is a surprisingly difficult task, as edges cannot be explicitly queried. Instead, empirical studies rely on traceroutes to build what are essentially single-source, all-destinations, shortest-path trees. These trees only sample a fraction of the network's edges, and a recent paper by Lakhina et al. found empirically that the resuting sample is intrinsically biased. For instance, the observed degree distribution under traceroute sampling exhibits a power law even when the underlying degree distribution is Poisson. In this paper, we study the bias of traceroute sampling systematically, and, for a very general class of underlying degree distributions, calculate the likely observed distributions explicitly. To do this, we use a continuous-time realization of the process of exposing the BFS tree of a random graph with a given degree distribution, calculate the expected degree distribution of the tree, and show that it is sharply concentrated. As example applications of our machinery, we show how traceroute sampling finds power-law degree distributions in both delta-regular and Poisson-distributed random graphs. Thus, our work puts the observations of Lakhina et al. on a rigorous footing, and extends them to nearly arbitrary degree distributions.

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Article

We bound the time it takes for a group of birds to reach steady state in a standard flocking model. We prove that (i) within single exponential time fragmentation ceases and each bird settles on a fixed flying direction; (ii) the flocking network converges only after a number of steps that is an iterated exponential of height logarithmic in the number of birds. We also prove the highly surprising result that this bound is optimal. The model directs the birds to adjust their velocities repeatedly by averaging them with their neighbors within a fixed radius. The model is deterministic, but we show that it can tolerate a reasonable amount of stochastic or even adversarial noise. Our methods are highly general and we speculate that the results extend to a wider class of models based on undirected flocking networks, whether defined metrically or topologically. This work introduces new techniques of broader interest, including the "flight net," the "iterated spectral shift," and a certain "residue-clearing" argument in circuit complexity.

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Conference Paper

A context-free grammar (CFG) in Greibach Normal Form coincides, in another notation, with a system of guarded recursion equations in Basic Process Algebra. Hence to each CFG a process can be assigned as solution, which has as its set of finite traces the context-free language (CFL) determined by that CFG. While the equality problem for CFL's is unsolvable, the equality problem for the processes determined by CFG's turns out to be solvable. Here equality on processes is given by a model of process graphs modulo bisimulation equivalence. The proof is given by displaying a periodic structure of the process graphs determined by CFG's. As a corollary of the periodicity a short proof of the solvability of the equivalence problem for simple context-free languages is given.

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Article

An important tool in the study of the complexity of Constraint Satisfaction
Problems (CSPs) is the notion of a relational clone, which is the set of all
relations expressible using primitive positive formulas over a particular set
of base relations. Post's lattice gives a complete classification of all
Boolean relational clones, and this has been used to classify the computational
difficulty of CSPs. Motivated by a desire to understand the computational
complexity of (weighted) counting CSPs, we develop an analogous notion of
functional clones and study the landscape of these clones. One of these clones
is the collection of log-supermodular (lsm) functions, which turns out to play
a significant role in classifying counting CSPs. In the conservative case
(where all nonnegative unary functions are available), we show that there are
no functional clones lying strictly between the clone of lsm functions and the
total clone (containing all functions). Thus, any counting CSP that contains a
single nontrivial non-lsm function is computationally as hard to approximate as
any problem in #P. Furthermore, we show that any non-trivial functional clone
(in a sense that will be made precise) contains the binary function "implies".
As a consequence, in the conservative case, all non-trivial counting CSPs are
as hard as #BIS, the problem of counting independent sets in a bipartite graph.
Given the complexity-theoretic results, it is natural to ask whether the
"implies" clone is equivalent to the clone of lsm functions. We use the Mobius
transform and the Fourier transform to show that these clones coincide
precisely up to arity 3. It is an intriguing open question whether the lsm
clone is finitely generated. Finally, we investigate functional clones in which
only restricted classes of unary functions are available.

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Article

Shared registers are basic objects used as communication mediums in asynchronous concurrent computation. A concurrent timestamp system is a higher typed communication object, and has been shown to be a powerful tool to solve many concurrency control problems. It has turned out to be possible to construct such higher typed objects from primitive lower typed ones. The next step is to find efficient constructions. We propose a very efficient wait-free construction of bounded concurrent timestamp systems from 1-writer multireader registers. This finalizes, corrects, and extends, a preliminary bounded multiwriter construction proposed by the second author in 1986. That work partially initiated the current interest in wait-free concurrent objects, and introduced a notion of discrete vector clocks in distributed algorithms.

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Article

One of the oldest unresolved problems in extremal combinatorics is to determine the maximum length of Davenport-Schinzel sequences, where an order-s DS sequence is defined to be one over an n-letter alphabet that avoids alternating subsequences of the form a ··· b ··· a ··· b ··· with length s+2. These sequences were introduced by Davenport and Schinzel in 1965 to model a certain problem in differential equations and have since become an indispensable tool in computational geometry and the analysis of discrete geometric structures.
Let DS{s}(n) be the extremal function for such sequences. What is DS{s} asymptotically? This question has been answered satisfactorily (by Hart and Sharir, Agarwal, Sharir, and Shor, and Nivasch) when s is even or s ≤ 3. However, since the work of Agarwal, Sharir, and Shor in the 1980s there has been a persistent gap in our understanding of the odd orders, a gap that is just as much qualitative as quantitative.
In this paper we establish the following bounds on DS{s}(n) for every order s. DS{s}(n) = {n, s=1; 2n-1, s=2; 2nα(n) + O(n), s=3; Θ(n2α(n)), s=4; Θ(nα(n)2α(n)), s=5; n2(1 + o(1))αt(n)/t!, s ≥ 6, ; t = ⌊(s-2)/2⌋
These results refute a conjecture of Alon, Kaplan, Nivasch, Sharir, and Smorodinsky and run counter to common sense. When $s$ is odd, DS{s} behaves essentially like DS{s-1}.

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Article

Thompson Sampling is one of the oldest heuristics for multi-armed bandit
problems. It is a randomized algorithm based on Bayesian ideas, and has
recently generated significant interest after several studies demonstrated it
to have better empirical performance compared to the state of the art methods.
In this paper, we provide a novel regret analysis for Thompson Sampling that
simultaneously proves both the optimal problem-dependent bound of
$(1+\epsilon)\sum_i \frac{\ln T}{\Delta_i}+O(\frac{N}{\epsilon^2})$ and the
first near-optimal problem-independent bound of $O(\sqrt{NT\ln T})$ on the
expected regret of this algorithm. Our near-optimal problem-independent bound
solves a COLT 2012 open problem of Chapelle and Li. The optimal
problem-dependent regret bound for this problem was first proven recently by
Kaufmann et al. [ALT 2012]. Our novel martingale-based analysis techniques are
conceptually simple, easily extend to distributions other than the Beta
distribution, and also extend to the more general contextual bandits setting
[Manuscript, Agrawal and Goyal, 2012].

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Article

We present several new results regarding λ s ( n ), the maximum length of a Davenport--Schinzel sequence of order s on n distinct symbols.
First, we prove that λ s ( n ) ≤ n · 2 (1/ t !)α( n ) t + O (α( n ) t -1 ) for s ≥ 4 even, and λ s ( n ) ≤ n · 2 (1/t!)α( n ) t log 2 α( n ) + O (α( n ) t ) for s ≥ 3 odd, where t = ⌊( s -2)/2⌋, and α( n ) denotes the inverse Ackermann function. The previous upper bounds, by Agarwal et al. [1989], had a leading coefficient of 1 instead of 1/ t ! in the exponent. The bounds for even s are now tight up to lower-order terms in the exponent. These new bounds result from a small improvement on the technique of Agarwal et al.
More importantly, we also present a new technique for deriving upper bounds for λ s ( n ). This new technique is very similar to the one we applied to the problem of stabbing interval chains [Alon et al. 2008]. With this new technique we: (1) re-derive the upper bound of λ 3 ( n ) ≤ 2 n α( n ) + O ( n √α( n )) (first shown by Klazar [1999]); (2) re-derive our own new upper bounds for general s and (3) obtain improved upper bounds for the generalized Davenport--Schinzel sequences considered by Adamec et al. [1992].
Regarding lower bounds, we show that λ 3 ( n ) ≥ 2 n α( n ) - O ( n ) (the previous lower bound (Sharir and Agarwal, 1995) had a coefficient of 1/2), so the coefficient 2 is tight. We also present a simpler variant of the construction of Agarwal et al. [1989] that achieves the known lower bounds of λ s ( n ) ≥ n · 2 (1/ t !) α( n ) t - O (α( n ) t -1 ) for s ≥ 4 even.

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Article

Measurement-based quantum computation has emerged from the physics community as a new approach to quantum computation where the notion of measurement is the main driving force of computation. This is in contrast with the more traditional circuit model that is based on unitary operations. Among measurement-based quantum computation methods, the recently introduced one-way quantum computer [Raussendorf and Briegel 2001] stands out as fundamental.
We develop a rigorous mathematical model underlying the one-way quantum computer and present a concrete syntax and operational semantics for programs, which we call patterns , and an algebra of these patterns derived from a denotational semantics. More importantly, we present a calculus for reasoning locally and compositionally about these patterns. We present a rewrite theory and prove a general standardization theorem which allows all patterns to be put in a semantically equivalent standard form. Standardization has far-reaching consequences: a new physical architecture based on performing all the entanglement in the beginning, parallelization by exposing the dependency structure of measurements and expressiveness theorems.
Furthermore we formalize several other measurement-based models, for example, Teleportation, Phase and Pauli models and present compositional embeddings of them into and from the one-way model. This allows us to transfer all the theory we develop for the one-way model to these models. This shows that the framework we have developed has a general impact on measurement-based computation and is not just particular to the one-way quantum computer.

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Article

Expectation is a central notion in probability theory. The notion of expectation also makes sense for other notions of uncertainty. We introduce a propositional logic for reasoning about expectation, where the semantics depends on the underlying representation of uncertainty. We give sound and complete axiomatizations for the logic in the case that the underlying representation is (a) probability, (b) sets of probability measures, (c) belief functions, and (d) possibility measures. We show that this logic is more expressive than the corresponding logic for reasoning about likelihood in the case of sets of probability measures, but equi-expressive in the case of probability, belief, and possibility. Finally, we show that satisfiability for these logics is NP-complete, no harder than satisfiability for propositional logic.

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Article

A basic fact in spectral graph theory is that the number of connected components in an undirected graph is equal to the multiplicity of the eigenvalue zero in the Laplacian matrix of the graph. In particular, the graph is disconnected if and only if there are at least two eigenvalues equal to zero. Cheeger's inequality and its variants provide an approximate version of the latter fact; they state that a graph has a sparse cut if and only if there are at least two eigenvalues that are close to zero.
It has been conjectured that an analogous characterization holds for higher multiplicities, i.e., there are k eigenvalues close to zero if and only if the vertex set can be partitioned into k subsets, each defining a sparse cut. We resolve this conjecture. Our result provides a theoretical justification for clustering algorithms that use the bottom k eigenvectors to embed the vertices into Rk, and then apply geometric considerations to the embedding.
We also show that these techniques yield a nearly optimal quantitative connection between the expansion of sets of size ≈ n/k and λk, the kth smallest eigenvalue of the normalized Laplacian, where n is the number of vertices. In particular, we show that in every graph there are at least k/2 disjoint sets (one of which will have size at most 2n/k), each having expansion at most O(√(λk log k)). Louis, Raghavendra, Tetali, and Vempala have independently proved a slightly weaker version of this last result [LRTV12]. The √(log k) bound is tight, up to constant factors, for the "noisy hypercube" graphs.

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Conference Paper

This paper proves a long standing conjecture in formal language theory. It
shows that all regular languages are Church-Rosser congruential. The class of
Church-Rosser congruential languages was introduced by McNaughton, Narendran,
and Otto in 1988. A language L is Church-Rosser congruential, if there exists a
finite confluent, and length-reducing semi-Thue system S such that L is a
finite union of congruence classes modulo S. It was known that there are
deterministic linear context-free languages which are not Church-Rosser
congruential, but on the other hand it was strongly believed that all regular
language are of this form. Actually, this paper proves a more general result.

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