Theory of Computing Seminar

Thursday December 8, 2016 1:30 PM

Time-Space Hardness of Learning Sparse Parities

Speaker: Avishay Tal, IAS, Princeton
Location: Annenberg 213

Abstract: How can one learn a parity function, i.e., a function of the form $f(x) = a_1 x_1 + a_2 x_2 + ... + a_n x_n (mod 2)$ where a_1, ..., a_n are in {0,1}, from random examples?

One approach is to gather O(n) random examples and perform Gaussian-elimination. This requires a memory of size O(n^2) and poly(n) time. Another approach is to go over all possible 2^n parity functions
and to verify them by checking O(n) random examples for each guess. This requires a memory of size O(n), but O(2^n * n) time.

In a recent work, Raz [FOCS, 2016] shows that if an algorithm has memory of size much smaller than n^2, then it has to spend roughly 2^n time in order to learn a parity function. In other words, fast learning requires good memory.

In this work, we show that even if the parity function is known to be extremely sparse, where only log(n) of the a_i's are nonzero, then the learning task is still time-space hard. That is, we show that any
algorithm with linear size memory and polynomial time fails to learn log(n)-sparse parities.

Consequently, the classical tasks of learning linear-size DNF Formulas, linear-size Decision Trees, and logarithmic-size Juntas are all time-space hard.

Based on joint work with Gillat Kol and Ran Raz.



Series Theory of Computing Seminar Series

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