Seminar

We typically have seminars on Wednesday at noon in Malone 228.  All seminar announcements will be sent to the theory mailing list.

Sep
12
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Zhengzhong Jin
Sep 12 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Zhengzhong Jin
Affiliation: JHU

Title: Deterministic Document Exchange Protocols, and Almost Optimal Binary Codes for Edit Errors

Abstract:
We study two basic problems regarding edit error, i.e. document exchange and error correcting codes for edit errors (insdel codes). For message length n and edit error upper bound k, it is known that in both problems the optimal sketch size or the optimal number of redundant bits is Θ(k log n/k). However, known constructions are far from achieving these bounds.

We significantly improve previous results on both problems. For document exchange, we give an efficient deterministic protocol with sketch size O(k log^2 n/k). This significantly improves the previous best known deterministic protocol, which has sketch size O(k^2+k log^2 n). For binary insdel codes, we obtain the following results:

1. An explicit binary insdel code which encodes an n-bit message x against k errors with redundancy O(k log^2 n/k). In particular this implies an explicit family of binary insdel codes that can correct ε fraction of insertions and deletions with rate 1−O(ε log^2(1/ε))=1−\tilde {O}(ε).

2. An explicit binary insdel code which encodes an n-bit message x against k errors with redundancy O(k log n). This is the first explicit construction of binary insdel codes that has optimal redundancy for a wide range of error parameters k, and this brings our understanding of binary insdel codes much closer to that of standard binary error correcting codes.

In obtaining our results we introduce the notion of ε-self matching hash functions and ε-synchronization hash functions. We believe our techniques can have further applications in the literature.

Oct
3
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Marius Zimand
Oct 3 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Marius Zimand
Affiliation: Towson University

Title: An operational characterization of mutual information in algorithmic information theory

Abstract: An operational interpretation of the concept of mutual information in the framework of Kolmogorov complexity has been elusive till now. We show that the mutual information of any pair of strings x and y is equal, up to logarithmic precision, to the length of the longest shared secret key that two parties, one having x and the complexity profile of the pair and the other one having y and the complexity profile of the pair, can establish via a probabilistic protocol with interaction on a public channel. We establish the communication complexity of secret key agreement protocols that produce a secret key of maximal length, for protocols with public randomness. We show that if the communication complexity drops below the established threshold then only very short secret keys can be obtained.

This is joint work with Andrei Romashchenko.

Oct
10
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Yasamin Nazari
Oct 10 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Yasamin Nazari
Affiliation: JHU

Title: Distributed Distance-Bounded Network Design Through Distributed Convex Programming

Abstract:
Solving linear programs is often a challenging task in distributed settings. While there are good algorithms for solving packing and covering linear programs in a distributed manner, this is essentially the only class of linear programs for which such an algorithm is known. In this work we provide a distributed algorithm for solving a different class of convex programs which we call “distance-bounded network design convex programs”. These can be thought of as relaxations of network design problems in which the connectivity requirement includes a distance constraint (most notably, graph spanners). Our algorithm runs in O((D/ϵ)logn) rounds in the LOCAL model and finds a (1+ϵ)-approximation to the optimal LP solution for any 0<ϵ≤1, where D is the largest distance constraint. While solving linear programs in a distributed setting is interesting in its own right, this class of convex programs is particularly important because solving them is often a crucial step when designing approximation algorithms. Hence we almost immediately obtain new and improved distributed approximation algorithms for a variety of network design problems, including Basic 3- and 4-Spanner, Directed k-Spanner, Lowest Degree k-Spanner, and Shallow-Light Steiner Network Design with a spanning demand graph. Our algorithms do not require any "heavy" computation and essentially match the best-known centralized approximation algorithms, while previous approaches which do not use heavy computation give approximations which are worse than the best-known centralized bounds.

Oct
17
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Karthik Abinav Sankararaman @ Malone 228
Oct 17 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Karthik Abinav Sankararaman
Affiliation: University of Maryland

Title: Adversarial Bandits with Knapsacks

Abstract: In this talk we will discuss the multi-armed bandits problem with resource constraints under the adversarial setting. In this problem, we have an interactive and repeated game between the algorithm and an adversary. Given T time-steps, d resources, m actions and budgets B1, B2, .. Bd, the algorithm chooses one of the m actions at each time-step. An adversary then reveals a reward and consumption for each of the d resources corresponding to this action. The time-step at which the algorithm runs out of the d resources (i.e., the total consumption for resource j > Bj), the game stops and the total reward is the sum of rewards obtained until the stopping time. The goal is to maximize the competitive ratio; the ratio of the total reward of the algorithm to the expected reward of a fixed distribution that knows all the rewards and consumption ahead of time. We give an algorithm for this problem whose competitive ratio is tight (matches the lower-bound). Moreover the algorithmic tools extends in an (almost) black-box fashion to also give an algorithm for the stochastic setting thus giving a “best-of-both-worlds” algorithm where the algorithm need not know a-priori if the input is adversarial or i.i.d. Finally we conclude with applications and special cases including the Dynamic Pricing problem.

This talk is based on a recent working paper with Nicole Immorlica, Rob Schapire and Alex Slivkins.

Oct
24
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Nithin Varma
Oct 24 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Nithin Varma
Affiliation: Boston University

Title: Separating erasures and errors in property testing using local list decoding

Abstract:
Corruption in data can be in the form of erasures (missing data) or errors (wrong data). Erasure-resilient property testing (Dixit, Raskhodnikova, Thakurta, Varma ’16) and tolerant property testing (Parnas, Ron, Rubinfeld ’06) are two formal models of sublinear algorithms that account for the presence of erasures and errors in input data, respectively.

We first show that there exists a property P that has an erasure-resilient tester whose query complexity is independent of the input size n, whereas every tolerant tester for P has query complexity that depends on n. We obtain this result by designing a local list decoder for the Hadamard code that works in the presence of erasures, thereby proving an analog of the famous Goldreich-Levin Theorem. We also show a strengthened separation by proving that there exists another property R such that R has a constant-query erasure-resilient tester, whereas every tolerant tester for R requires n^{Omega(1)} queries. The main tool used in proving the strengthened separation is an approximate variant of a locally list decodable code that works against erasures.

Joint work with Sofya Raskhodnikova and Noga Ron-Zewi.

Nov
7
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Jalaj Upadhyay
Nov 7 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Jalaj Upadhyay
Affiliation: JHU

Title: Differentially Private Spectral Sparsification of Graphs
Abstract:
In this talk, we will discuss differentially private spectral sparsification of graphs. We argue that traditional spectral sparsification where the output graph is a subgraph of the input graph is not possible with differential privacy. This motivates us to define a relaxed version of spectral sparsification of graphs.

We consider edge-level privacy, i.e., neighboring graphs differs in one edge with weight one. We give efficient $(\alpha,\beta)$-differentially private algorithms that, on input a dense graph G, construct a spectral sparsification of G. Our output graphs has $ O(n/\eps^2)$ weighted edges, which matches the best known non-private algorithms.

We can use our private sparse graph to solve various combinatorial and learning problems on graphs efficiently while preserving differential privacy. Some examples include all possible cut queries, Max-Cut, Sparse-Cut, Edge-Expansion, Laplacian eigenmaps, etc.

This talk is based on a joint work with Raman Arora and Vladimir Braverman.

Nov
16
Fri
Capital Area Theory Day @ Georgetown University
Nov 16 all-day
Dec
5
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Ke Wu
Dec 5 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Ke Wu
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Synchronization Strings: Efficient and Fast Deterministic Constructions over Small Alphabets
Abstract:
Synchronization strings are recently introduced by Haeupler and Shahrasbi (STOC 2017) in the study of codes for correcting insertion and deletion errors (insdel codes). They showed that for any parameter ε>0, synchronization strings of arbitrary length exist over an alphabet whose size depends only on ε. Specifically, they obtained an alphabet size of O(ε^{−4}), which left an open question on where the minimal size of such alphabets lies between Ω(ε^{1}) and O(ε^{−4}). In this work, we partially bridge this gap by providing an improved lower bound of Ω(ε^{−3/2}), and an improved upper bound of O(ε^{−2}). We also provide fast explicit constructions of synchronization strings over small alphabets.

Further, along the lines of previous work on similar combinatorial objects, we study the extremal question of the smallest possible alphabet size over which synchronization strings can exist for some constant ε<1. We show that one can construct ε-synchronization strings over alphabets of size four while no such string exists over binary alphabets. This reduces the extremal question to whether synchronization strings exist over ternary alphabets.

Jan
16
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Sami Davies
Jan 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Sami Davies
Affiliation: University of Washington

Title: A Tale of Santa Claus, Hypergraphs, and Matroids
Abstract:
A well-known problem in scheduling and approximation algorithms is the Santa Claus problem. Suppose that Santa Claus has a set of gifts, and he wants to distribute them among a set of children so that the least happy child is made as happy as possible. Here, the value that a child i has for a present j is of the form p_{ij} \in \{0,p_j\}. A polynomial time algorithm by Annamalai et al. gives a 12.33-approximation algorithm and is based on a modification of Haxell’s hypergraph matching argument.

In this paper, we introduce a matroid version of the Santa Claus problem. Our algorithm is also based on Haxell’s augmentation tree, but with the introduction of the matroid structure we solve a more general problem with cleaner methods. Our result can then be used as a blackbox to obtain a (4 +\varepsilon)-approximation for Santa Claus. This factor also compares against a natural, compact LP for Santa Claus.

Feb
13
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Martin Farach-Colton
Feb 13 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Martin Farach-Colton
Affiliation: Rutgers University

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA