Bounded Independence Fools Degree-2 Threshold Functions

Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel M. Kane, Jelani Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Let x be a random vector coming from any k-wise independent distribution over {-1,1}^n. For an n-variate degree-2 polynomial p, we prove that E[sgn(p(x))] is determined up to an additive epsilon for k = poly(1/epsilon). This answers an open question of Diakonikolas et al. (FOCS 2009). Using standard constructions of k-wise independent distributions, we obtain a broad class of explicit generators that epsilon-fool the class of degree-2 threshold functions with seed length log(n)*poly(1/epsilon).
Our approach is quite robust: it easily extends to yield that the intersection of any constant number of degree-2 threshold functions is epsilon-fooled by poly(1/epsilon)-wise independence. Our results also hold if the entries of x are k-wise independent standard normals, implying for example that bounded independence derandomizes the Goemans-Williamson hyperplane rounding scheme.
To achieve our results, we introduce a technique we dub multivariate FT-mollification, a generalization of the univariate form introduced by Kane et al. (SODA 2010) in the context of streaming algorithms. Along the way we prove a generalized hypercontractive inequality for quadratic forms which takes the operator norm of the associated matrix into account. These techniques may be of independent interest.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputing Research Repository (CoRR)
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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