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Unconditional Lower Bounds in Complexity Theory

Carboni Oliveira, Igor

This work investigates the hardness of solving natural computational problems according to different complexity measures. Our results and techniques span several areas in theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics. They have in common the following aspects: (i) the results are unconditional, i.e., they rely on no unproven hardness assumption from complexity theory; (ii) the corresponding lower bounds are essentially optimal. Among our contributions, we highlight the following results.
Constraint Satisfaction Problems and Monotone Complexity. We introduce a natural formulation of the satisfiability problem as a monotone function, and prove a near-optimal 2^{Ω (n/log n)} lower bound on the size of monotone formulas solving k-SAT on n-variable instances (for a large enough k ∈ ℕ). More generally, we investigate constraint satisfaction problems according to the geometry of their constraints, i.e., as a function of the hypergraph describing which variables appear in each constraint. Our results show in a certain technical sense that the monotone circuit depth complexity of the satisfiability problem is polynomially related to the tree-width of the corresponding graphs.
Interactive Protocols and Communication Complexity. We investigate interactive compression protocols, a hybrid model between computational complexity and communication complexity. We prove that the communication complexity of the Majority function on n-bit inputs with respect to Boolean circuits of size s and depth d extended with modulo p gates is precisely n/log^{ϴ(d)} s, where p is a fixed prime number, and d ∈ ℕ. Further, we establish a strong round-separation theorem for bounded-depth circuits, showing that (r+1)-round protocols can be substantially more efficient than r-round protocols, for every r ∈ ℕ.
Negations in Computational Learning Theory. We study the learnability of circuits containing a given number of negation gates, a measure that interpolates between monotone functions, and the class of all functions. Let C^t_n be the class of Boolean functions on n input variables that can be computed by Boolean circuits with at most t negations. We prove that any algorithm that learns every f ∈ C^t_n with membership queries according to the uniform distribution to accuracy ε has query complexity 2^{Ω (2^t sqrt(n)/ε)} (for a large range of these parameters). Moreover, we give an algorithm that learns C^t_n from random examples only, and with a running time that essentially matches this information-theoretic lower bound.
Negations in Theory of Cryptography. We investigate the power of negation gates in cryptography and related areas, and prove that many basic cryptographic primitives require essentially the maximum number of negations among all Boolean functions. In other words, cryptography is highly non-monotone. Our results rely on a variety of techniques, and give near-optimal lower bounds for pseudorandom functions, error-correcting codes, hardcore predicates, randomness extractors, and small-bias generators.
Algorithms versus Circuit Lower Bounds. We strengthen a few connections between algorithms and circuit lower bounds. We show that the design of faster algorithms in some widely investigated learning models would imply new unconditional lower bounds in complexity theory. In addition, we prove that the existence of non-trivial satisfiability algorithms for certain classes of Boolean circuits of depth d+2 leads to lower bounds for the corresponding class of circuits of depth d. These results show that either there are no faster algorithms for some computational tasks, or certain circuit lower bounds hold.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Thesis Advisors
Servedio, Rocco Anthony
Malkin, Tal G.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 30, 2015
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