Talk Titles and Abstracts
Per Austrin (Toronto)
On the usefulness of predicates
Motivated by the pervasiveness of strong inapproximability results
for MaxCSPs, we introduce a relaxed version of the MaxCSP. In this
relaxed version, loosely speaking, the algorithm is allowed to replace
the constraints of an instance by some other constraints, and then
only needs to satisfy as many of the new constraints as possible.
For instance, given a Max 3-Lin instance, the algorithm would be
allowed
to change all the constraints to 3-Sat constraints.
We consider the following (very weak) notion of such an algorithm
being good: given that the original MaxCSP instance is almost satisfiable,
the algorithm succeeds if it beats a random assignment on
the new instance with the constraints replaced. We say that a MaxCSP
is useful if there is a good algorithm for it.
Under the Unique Games Conjecture, we can give a complete and simple
characterization of useful MaxCSPs defined by a predicate: such
a MaxCSP is useful if and only if there is a pairwise independent
distribution supported on its satisfying assignments.
(Joint work with Johan Håstad)
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Boaz Barak (Microsoft)
Making the long code shorter, with applications to the unique
games conjecture
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Andrei Bulatov (Simon Fraser University)
Approximate counting
While the complexity of exact counting of solutions of CSP is well
understood now, approximating the number of solutions is mostly
open. In this talk we explain the connections of approximate counting
to other areas such as sampling, partition functions, and graph
polynomials. We introduce relevant complexity classe and give a
short survey of recent results in this area.
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Andrei Krokhin (Durham University)
Robust algorithms for CSPs
A polynomial-time algorithm deciding satisfiability of CSP instances
treats all unsatisfiable instances the same. An approximation algorithm
for CSP may not distinguish satisfiable and almost satisfiable instances.
A natural combination of these notions was suggested by Zwick in
1998: call an algorithm for CSP robust if, for each epsilon and
each (1-epsilon)-satisiable instance, the algorithm returns a (1-g(epsilon))
satisfying assignment where g(epsilon) tends to 0 as epsilon tends
to 0. Informally, such an algorithm correctly identifies satisfiable
instances and also finds almost satisfying assignments for almost
satisfiable instances. A classical result by Hastad rules out robust
algorithms for systems of linear equations with three variables
per equation. On the other hand, Zwick gave robust algorithms for
2-Sat and Horn-k-Sat. In 2010, Guruswami and Zhou conjectured that
a CSP (with a fixed finite set of allowed constraint types over
a fixed finite domain) admits a robust algorithm if and only if
it has bounded width (i.e. satisfiability can be decided by a local
propagation algorithm). In this talk, we will present some initial
results towards proving this conjecture, based on joint work with
Victor Dalmau.
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Gabor Kun (Institute for Advanced Study)
Linear programming robustly decides width-1 CSP's
We say that an algorithm robustly decides a CSP if it distinguishes
>(1-epsilon)-satisfiable instances from <(1-r(epsilon))-satisfiable
instances, where r(epsilon)->0 as epsilon->0. We prove that
the canonical linear program robustly decides a CSP iff it has width
1. We also prove that this is exactly the class of CSP's testable
with constantly many queries (in the so-called bounded degree model).
Joint work with Ryan O'Donnell, Suguru Tamaki, Yuichi Yoshida and
Yuan Zhou.
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Konstantin Makarychev (IBM T.J. Watson Research Center)
How to Play Unique Games Against a Semi-Random Adversary
Joint work with Alexandra Kolla (Microsoft Research) and Yury Makarychev
(TTIC)
We study the average case complexity of the Unique Games problem.
We propose a semi-random model, in which a unique game instance
is generated in several steps. First an adversary selects a completely
satisfiable instance of Unique Games, then she chooses an epsilon-fraction
of all edges, and finally replaces ("corrupts") the constraints
corresponding to these edges with new constraints. If all steps
are adversarial, the adversary can obtain any (1-epsilon)-satisfiable
instance, so then the problem is as hard as in the worst case. We
show however that we can find a solution satisfying a (1-delta)-fraction
of all constraints in polynomial-time if at least one step is random
(we require that the average degree of the graph is at least log
k). Our result holds only for epsilon less than some absolute constant.
We prove that if epsilon > 1/2, then the problem is hard, that
is, no polynomial-time algorithm can distinguish between the following
two cases: (i) the instance is a (1-epsilon) satisfiable semi-random
instance and (ii) the instance is at most delta satisfiable (for
every delta > 0); the result assumes the 2-to-2 Unique Games
conjecture.
Finally, we study semi-random instances of Unique Games that are
at most (1-epsilon) satisfiable. We present an algorithm that distinguishes
between the case when the instance is a semi-random instance and
the case when the instance is an arbitrary (1-delta)-satisfiable
instance (if epsilon > c delta, for some absolute constant c).
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Yury Makarychev (Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago)
The Grothendieck Constant is Strictly Smaller than Krivine's
Bound
Abstract: I will talk about Grothendieck's Inequality. The inequality
was proved by Alexandre Grothendieck in 1953, and since then it
has found numerous applications in Analysis, Quantum Mechanics and
Computer Science. From the point of view of combinatorial optimization,
the inequality states that the integrality gap of a certain semi
definite program is less than some absolute constant. The optimal
value of this constant is called the Grothendieck constant K_G.
The Grothendieck constant lies between 1.67 and 1.7822..., however
its exact value is still unknown. It was conjectured that K_G is
equal to 1.7822.. ,Krivine's upper bound for K_G. In this talk,
we will disprove this conjecture and show that K_G is strictly less
than Krivine's bound.
Joint work with Mark Braverman (University of Toronto), Konstantin
Makarychev (IBM Research), Assaf Naor (Courant Institute, NYU).
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Dana Moshkovitz (MIT)
The Sliding Scale Conjecture From Intersecting Curves
The Sliding Scale Conjecture was posed by Bellare, Goldwasser, Lund
and Russell in 1993 and has been open since. It says that there
are PCPs with constant number of queries, polynomial alphabet and
polynomially small error. We show that the conjecture can be proved
assuming a certain geometric conjecture about curves over finite
fields.
The geometric conjecture states that there are small families of
low degree curves that behave, both in their distribution over points
and in the intersections between pairs of curves from the family,
similarly to the family of all low degree curves.
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Elchanan Mossel (University of California, Berkeley)
Tests of deviation from dictatorship
I will give an overview of what we know (and don't know) about
("long code") tests separating dictatorships from functions
far from dictatorships. Such tests play a role in proving hardness
of approximation for constraint satisfaction problems.
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Rishi Saket (Princeton University)
Some optimal geometric inapproximability results without assuming
UGC
The Unique Games Conjecture (UGC) asserts that a certain two variable
constraint satisfaction problem with bijective constraints is NP-hard
to approximate. While the conjecture remains an important open question,
it has yielded several optimal inapproximability results - many
of which depend critically on the assumption of bijective constraints.
In this talk we shall observe that some geometric inapproximability
results - previously only known based on the UGC - can be shown
without appealing to the conjecture.
Specifically, I shall present optimal NP-hardness of approximation
results obtained in recent work [GRSW 11] for two problems: the
L_p Subspace Approximation Problem and the L_p Quadratic Grothendieck
Maximization Problem for constant p > 2. These results are based
onthe so called "smooth" Label Cover instances which have
"locally bijective" constraints. Such instances have also
been used in earlier work [KS 08] to prove optimal hardness of learning
intersections of two halfspaces. The focus of the talk would be
to illustrate how assumption of the UGC can be avoided in proving
the mentioned results.
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Ali Sinop (Carnegie Mellon University)
Lasserre Hierarchy, Higher Eigenvalues, and Approximation Schemes
for Quadratic Integer Programming with PSD Objectives
We present an approximation scheme for optimizing certain Quadratic
Integer Programming problems with positive semidefinite objective
functions and global linear constraints.
This framework includes well known graph problems such as Minimum
graph bisection, Edge expansion, Uniform sparsest cut, and Small
Set expansion, as well as the Unique Games problem.
These problems are notorious for the existence of huge gaps between
the known algorithmic results and NP-hardness results. Our algorithm
is based on rounding semidefinite programs from the Lasserre hierarchy,
and the analysis uses bounds for low-rank approximations of a matrix
in Frobenius norm using columns of the matrix. For all the above
graph problems, we give an algorithm running in time n^O(r/\epsilon^2)
with approximation ratio 1+\epsilon/ min(1,\lambda_r), where \lambda_r
is the r’th smallest eigenvalue of the normalized graph aplacian
L. In the case of graph bisection and small set expansion, the number
of vertices in the cut is within lower-order terms of the stipulated
bound. Our results imply (1 + O(\epsilon)) factor approximation
in time n^O(r'/\epsilon^2) where r' is the number of eigenvalues
of L smaller than 1 -\epsilon. This perhaps gives some indication
as to why even showing mere APX-hardness for these problems has
been elusive, since the reduction must produce graphs with a slowly
growing spectrum (and classes like planar graphs which are known
to have such a spectral property often admit good algorithms owing
to their nice structure). For Unique Games, we give a factor (1
+ 2+\epsilon/\lambda_r) approximation for minimizing the number
of unsatisfied constraints in n^O(r/\epsilon^2) time. This improves
an earlier bound for solving Unique Games on expanders, and also
shows that Lasserre SDPs are powerful enough to solve wellknown
integrality gap instances for the basic SDP.
We also give an algorithm for independent sets in graphs that performs
well when the Laplacian does not have too many eigenvalues bigger
than 1 + o(1).
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David Steurer (Microsoft)
Subexponential Algorithms for Unique Games and Related Problems
We give a subexponential time approximation algorithm for the Unique
Games problem: Given a Unique Games instance with optimal value
1-6 and alphabet size k, our algorithm finds in time exp(kn) a solution
of value 1-.
We also obtain subexponential algorithms with similar approximation
guarantees for Small-Set Expansion and Multi Cut. For Max Cut, Sparsest
Cut and Vertex Cover, our techniques lead to subexponential algorithms
with improved approximation guarantees on subclasses of instances.
Khot's Unique Games Conjecture (UGC) states that it is NP-hard to
achieve approximation guarantees such as ours for Unique Games.
While our result stops short of refuting the UGC, it does suggest
that Unique Games is significantly easier than NP-hard problems
such as Max 3-SAT, Label Cover and more, that are believed not to
have subexponential algorithms achieving a non-trivial approximation
ratio.
The main component in our algorithms is a new kind of graph decomposition
that may have other applications: We show that by changing an fraction
of its edges, any regular graph on n vertices can be broken into
disjoint parts such that the stochastic adjacency matrix of each
part has at most n eigenvalues larger than 1-6.
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Aravindan Vijayaraghavan (Princeton University)
On the Densest k-Subgraph problem
The densest k-subgraph (DkS) problem, where given a graph and integer
k, the goal is to find the subgraph on k vertices having the maximum
number of edges, is one of the notorious problems in approximation
algorithms. While the problem has frustrated the development of
good approximation algorithms, inapproximability results have also
been hard to come by ( it is NP-hard, and does not have a PTAS unless
NP has subexponential time algorithms). Adding to the interest in
studying this problem are a number of recent results which have
exploited the conjectured hardness of densest $k$-subgraph and its
variants.
This talk will cover some recent developments in the last couple
of years, about the use of LP and SDP hierarchies to obtain better
approximation algorithms for the problem. I will primarily focus
on an
algorithm which gives an O(n^{1/4 + \epsilon}) factor approximation,
by considering O(1/\epsilon) levels of an LP hierarchy. This worst-case
algorithm is, in fact, inspired by studying a planted version of
the problem. Moreover, these instances also seem to present a barrier
to further progress.
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Yi Wu (IBM Almaden Research Center)
On the hardness of pricing loss leaders
Consider the problem of pricing n items under an unlimited supply
with m single minded buyers, each of which is interested in at most
k of the items. The goal is to price each item with profit margin
p_1, p_2, . . . , p_n so as to maximize the overall profit. There
is an O (k)-approximation algorithm by [BB06] when the price on
each item must be above its margin cost; i.e., each pi > 0. We
investigate the above problem when the seller is allowed to price
some of the items below their margin cost. It was shown in [BB06,
BBCH08] that by pricing some of the items below cost, the seller
could possibly increase the maximum profit by ?(log n) times. These
items sold at low prices to stimulate other profitable sales are
usually called "loss leader". It is unclear what kind
of approximation guarantees are achievable when some of the items
can be priced below cost. Understanding this question is posed as
an open problem in [BB06].
In this work, we give a strong negative result for the problem
of pricing loss leaders. We prove that it is NP-hard to get a constant
approximation for the problem for even for k=3, i.e.when each buyer
is interested in at most 3 items. When k=2, we show a similar hardness
result assuming the Unique Games Conjecture.
This talk is based on joint work with Prepas Popat.
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Yuan Zhou (Carnegie Mellon University)
The densest k-subgraph (DkS) problem
The densest k-subgraph (DkS) problem (i.e. find a size k subgraph
with maximum number of edges), is one of the notorious problems
in approximation algorithms. There is a significant gap between
known upper and lower bounds for DkS: the current best algorithm
gives an ~ O(n^{1/4}) approximation, while even showing a small
constant factor hardness requires significantly stronger assumptions
than P != NP. In addition to interest in designing better algorithms,
a number of recent results have exploited the conjectured hardness
of densest k-subgraph and its variants. Thus, understanding the
approximability of DkS is an important challenge.
In this talk, we give evidence for the hardness of approximating
DkS within polynomial factors. Specifically, we expose the limitations
of strong semidefinite programs from SDP hierarchies in solving
densest k-subgraph. Our results include:
* A lower bound of Omega(n^{1/4}/log^3 n) on the integrality gap
for Omega(log n/log log n) rounds of the Sherali-Adams relaxation
for DkS. This also holds for the relaxation obtained from Sherali-Adams
with an added SDP constraint. Our gap instances are in fact Erdos-Renyi
random graphs.
* For every epsilon > 0, a lower bound of n^{2/53-eps} on the
integrality gap of n^{Omega(eps)} rounds of the Lasserre SDP relaxation
for DkS, and an n^{Omega_eps(1)} gap for n^{1-eps} rounds. Our construction
proceeds via a reduction from random instances of a certain Max-CSP
over large domains.
In the absence of inapproximability results for DkS, our results
show that even the most powerful SDPs are unable to beat a factor
of n^{Omega(1)}, and in fact even improving the best known n^{1/4}
factor is a barrier for current techniques.
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