Seminar

We typically have seminars on Wednesdays at noon in Malone 228.  For Fall 2021, we will be having seminars virtually using Zoom in this room. All seminar announcements will be sent to the theory mailing list.

May
1
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Xuan Wu
May 1 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Xuan Wu
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins

Title: Coreset for Ordered Weighted Clustering

Abstract:

Ordered k-Median is a generalization of classical clustering problems such as k-Median and k-Center, that offers a more flexible data analysis, like easily combining multiple objectives (e.g., to increase fairness or for Pareto optimization). Its objective function is defined via the Ordered Weighted Averaging (OWA) paradigm of Yager (1988), where data points are weighted according to a predefined weight vector, but in order of their contribution to the objective (distance from the centers).

Coreset is a powerful data-reduction technique which summarizes the data set into a small (weighted) point set while approximately preserving the objective value of the data set to all centers. When there are multiple objectives (weights), the above standard coreset might have limited usefulness, whereas in a \emph{simultaneous} coreset, which was introduced recently by Bachem and Lucic and Lattanzi (2018), the above approximation holds for all weights (in addition to all centers). Our main result is the first construction of simultaneous coreset for the Ordered k-Median problem of small size.

In this talk, I will introduce the basics of coreset construction for the clustering problem and the main ideas of our new results. Finally, we discuss some remaining open problems.

This talk is based on joint work with Vladimir Braverman, Shaofeng Jiang, and Robert Krauthgamer.

Oct
11
Fri
[Theory Seminar] Christopher Musco
Oct 11 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Speaker: Christopher Musco
Affiliation: NYU

Title: Structured Covariance Estimation

Abstract:
Given access to samples from a distribution D over d-dimensional vectors, how many samples are necessary to learn the distribution’s covariance matrix, T? Moreover, how can we leverage a priori knowledge about T’s structure to reduce this sample complexity?

I will discuss this fundamental statistical problem in the setting where T is known to have Toeplitz structure. Toeplitz covariance matrices arise in countless signal processing applications, from wireless communications, to medical imaging, to time series analysis. In many of these applications, we are interested in learning algorithms that only view a subset of entries in each d-dimensional vector sample from D. We care about minimizing two notions of sample complexity 1) the total number of vector samples taken and 2) the number of entries accessed in each vector sample. The later goal typically equates to minimizing equipment or hardware requirements.

I will present several new non-asymptotic bounds on these sample complexity measures. We will start by taking a fresh look at classical and widely used algorithms, including methods based on selecting entries from each sample according to a “sparse ruler”. Then, I will introduce a novel sampling and estimation strategy that improves on existing methods in many settings. Our new approach for learning Toeplitz structured covariance utilizes tools from random matrix sketching, leverage score sampling for continuous signals, and sparse Fourier transform algorithms. It fits into a broader line of work which seeks to address fundamental problems in signal processing using tools from theoretical computer science and randomized numerical linear algebra.

Bio:
Christopher Musco is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. His research focuses on the algorithmic foundations of data science and machine learning. Christopher received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and B.S. degrees in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Yale University.

Oct
16
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Guy Kortsarz
Oct 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Guy Kortsarz
Affiliation: Rutgers Universty – Camden

Title: A survey on the Directed Steiner tree problem
Abstract:
The directed Steiner problem is one of the most important problems in optimization, and in particular is more general than Group Steiner and other problems.

I will discuss the (by now classic) 1/\epsilon^3 n^epsilon approximation for the problem by Charikar et al (the algorithm was invented by Kortsarz and Peleg and is called recursive greedy. A technique who people in approximation should know). The running time is more than n^{1/epsilon}. One of the most important open questions in Approximation Algorithms is if there is a polynomial time polylog ratio for this problem. This is open from 1997.

I will discuss the Group Steiner problem ( a special case of the Directed Steiner problem) and the Directed Steiner Forest (a generalization of the Directed Steiner problem) and many more related problems.

Nov
6
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Jiapeng Zhang
Nov 6 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Jiapeng Zhang
Affiliation: Harvard University

Title:An improved sunflower bound

Abstract:

A sunflower with $r$ petals is a collection of $r$ sets so that the intersection of each pair is equal to the intersection of all. Erdos and Rado in 1960 proved the sunflower lemma: for any fixed $r$, any family of sets of size $w$, with at least about $w^w$ sets, must contain a sunflower. The famous sunflower conjecture is that the bound on the number of sets can be improved to $c^w$ for some constant $c$. Despite much research, the best bounds until recently were all of the order of $w^{cw}$ for some constant c. In this work, we improve the bounds to about $(log w)^w$.
Joint work with Ryan Alweiss, Shachar Lovett and Kewen Wu.
Nov
8
Fri
[Theory Seminar] Robert Krauthgamer
Nov 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Robert Krauthgamer
Affiliation: Weizmann Institute of Science

Title: On Solving Linear Systems in Sublinear Time

Abstract:
I will discuss sublinear algorithms that solve linear systems locally. In
the classical version of this problem, the input is a matrix S and a vector
b in the range of S, and the goal is to output a vector x satisfying Sx=b.

We focus on computing (approximating) one coordinate of x, which potentially
allows for sublinear algorithms. Our results show that there is a
qualitative gap between symmetric diagonally dominant (SDD) and the more
general class of positive semidefinite (PSD) matrices. For SDD matrices, we
develop an algorithm that runs in polylogarithmic time, provided that S is
sparse and has a small condition number (e.g., Laplacian of an expander
graph). In contrast, for certain PSD matrices with analgous assumptions, the
running time must be at least polynomial.

Joint work with Alexandr Andoni and Yosef Pogrow.

Nov
9
Sat
FOCS Workshops
Nov 9 all-day
Nov
10
Sun
FOCS
Nov 10 – Nov 12 all-day
Dec
4
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Yasamin Nazari
Dec 4 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Yasamin Nazari
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Sparse Hopsets in Congested Clique

Abstract:

We give the first Congested Clique algorithm that computes a sparse hopset with polylogarithmic hopbound in polylogarithmic time. Given a graph G=(V,E), a (β,ϵ)-hopset H with “hopbound” β, is a set of edges added to G such that for any pair of nodes u and v in G there is a path with at most β hops in GH with length within (1+ϵ) of the shortest path between u and v in G.
Our hopsets are significantly sparser than the recent construction of Censor-Hillel et al. [6], that constructs a hopset of size Õ (n^{3/2}), but with a smaller polylogarithmic hopbound. On the other hand, the previously known constructions of sparse hopsets with polylogarithmic hopbound in the Congested Clique model, proposed by Elkin and Neiman [10],[11],[12], all require polynomial rounds.
One tool that we use is an efficient algorithm that constructs an -limited neighborhood cover, that may be of independent interest.
Finally, as a side result, we also give a hopset construction in a variant of the low-memory Massively Parallel Computation model, with improved running time over existing algorithms.
Dec
11
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Richard Shea
Dec 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Richard Shea

Affiliation: Applied and Computational Math program, Johns Hopkins University

Title: Progress towards building a Dynamic Hawkes Graph

Abstract:

This talk will introduce the Dynamic Hawkes Graph.  It builds from developments in multivariate Hawkes Processes, locally stable Hawkes distributions, and representations of the Hawkes process as an Integer Valued autoregressive (INAR) fit.  The background to enable understanding of the Dynamic Hawkes Graph will be the bulk of the talk. Richard is presenting this as part of his Master’s thesis.
Mar
11
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Aditya Krishnan
Mar 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Aditya Krishnan
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Schatten Norms in Matrix Streams: The Role of Sparsity

Abstract:
Spectral functions of large matrices contain important structural information about the underlying data, and are thus becoming increasingly important to efficiently compute. Many times, large matrices representing real-world data are sparse or doubly sparse (i.e., sparse in both rows and columns), and are accessed as a stream of updates, typically organized in row-order. In this setting, where space (memory) is the limiting resource, all known algorithms require space that is polynomial in the dimension of the matrix, even for sparse matrices. We address this challenge by providing the first algorithms whose space requirement is independent of the matrix dimension, assuming the matrix is doubly-sparse and presented in row-order.

In addition, we prove that multiple passes are unavoidable in this setting and show extensions of our primary technique, including a trade-off between space requirements and number of passes. Our algorithms approximate the Schatten p-norms, which we use in turn to approximate other spectral functions, such as logarithm of the determinant, trace of matrix inverse, and Estrada index.

Joint work with Vladimir Braverman, Robert Krauthgamer and Roi Sinoff.

Mar
25
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Arnold Filtser
Mar 25 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Arnold Filtser
Affiliation: Columbia University

Title: TBD
Abstract: TBD

Sep
2
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Welcome and Introductions
Sep 2 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Sep
16
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Jasper Lee
Sep 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Jasper Lee
Affiliation: Brown University

Title: Real-Valued Sub-Gaussian Mean Estimation, Optimal to a (1+o(1)) Multiplicative Factor

Abstract:
We revisit one of the most fundamental problems in statistics: given access to independent samples from a 1D random variable (with finite but unknown mean and variance), what is the best way to estimate the mean, in terms of error convergence with respect to sample size? The conventional wisdom is to use the sample mean as our estimate. However it is known that the sample mean has optimal convergence if and only if the underlying distribution is (sub-)Gaussian. Moreover, it can even be exponentially slower than optimal for certain heavy-tailed distributions. On the other hand, the median-of-means estimator (invented and reinvented in various literature) does have sub-Gaussian convergence for all finite-variance distributions, albeit in the big-O sense with a sub-optimal multiplicative constant. The natural remaining question then, is whether it is possible to bridge the gap, to have an estimator that has optimal sub-Gaussian concentration with an optimal constant, for all finite-variance distributions.

In this talk, we answer the question affirmatively by giving an estimator that converges with the optimal constant inside the big-O, up to a (1+o(1)) multiplicative factor. Our estimator is furthermore computable in time linear in the sample size. The convergence analysis involves deriving tail bounds using tools from linear and convex programming, which may be of independent interest.

Joint work with Paul Valiant.

Sep
23
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Edinah Gnang
Sep 23 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Edinah Gnang
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University
Title: On the Kotzig-Ringel-Rosa conjecture

Abstract:
In this talk we describe and motivate the K.R.R. conjecture graph partitioning and describe a functional approach enabling us to tackle the K.R.R. conjecture via a new composition lemma. If time permits I will also discuss algorithmic aspects.

Oct
7
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Aditya Krishnan
Oct 7 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Aditya Krishnan
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Schatten Norms in Matrix Streams: The Role of Sparsity.

Abstract: Spectral functions of large matrices contain important structural information about the underlying data, and are thus becoming increasingly important to efficiently compute. Many times, large matrices representing real-world data are \emph{sparse} or \emph{doubly sparse} (i.e., sparse in both rows and columns), and are accessed as a \emph{stream} of updates, typically organized in \emph{row-order}. In this setting, where space (memory) is the limiting resource, all known algorithms require space that is polynomial in the dimension of the matrix, even for sparse matrices. We address this challenge by providing the first algorithms whose space requirement is \emph{independent of the matrix dimension}, assuming the matrix is doubly-sparse and presented in row-order.

In addition, we prove that multiple passes are unavoidable in this setting and show extensions of our primary technique, including a trade-off between space requirements and number of passes. Our algorithms approximate the Schatten p-norms, which we use in turn to approximate other spectral functions, such as logarithm of the determinant, trace of matrix inverse, and Estrada index.

Joint work with Vladimir Braverman, Robert Krauthgamer and Roi Sinoff.

Oct
21
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Brian Brubach
Oct 21 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Brian Brubach
Affiliation: Wellesley College

Title: Online matching under three layers of uncertainty

Abstract:
Online matching problems have become ubiquitous with the rise of the internet and e-commerce. From the humble beginnings of a single problem 30 years ago, the theoretical study of online matching now encompasses dozens of variations inspired by diverse applications. We’ll take a tour through the landscape of online matching problems. As we go, we’ll venture deeper and deeper into the jungle of stochasticity and uncertainty. Finally, we’ll cover some very recent work introducing new algorithms and models. Along the way, I’ll highlight techniques and tricks I’ve found useful in studying these problems.

Oct
28
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Joshua Grochow
Oct 28 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Joshua Grochow
Affiliation: University of Colorado

Title: Isomorphism of tensors, algebras, and polynomials, oh my!

Abstract: We consider the problems of testing isomorphism of tensors, p-groups, cubic polynomials, quantum states, algebras, and more, which arise from a variety of areas, including machine learning, group theory, and cryptography. Despite Graph Isomorphism now being in quasi-polynomial time, and having long had efficient practical software, for the problems we consider no algorithm is known that is asymptotically better than brute force, and state-of-the-art software cannot get beyond small instances. We approach this situation in two ways:
– Complexity-theoretic: we show that all these problems are polynomial-time equivalent, giving rise to a class of problems we call Tensor Isomorphism-complete (TI-complete). Perhaps surprising here is that we show that isomorphism of d-tensors for any fixed d (at least 3) is equivalent to testing isomorphism of 3-tensors. These equivalences let us focus on just one problem rather than dozens, or a whole infinite hierarchy, separately.
– Algorithmic: Adapting the Weisfeiler-Leman method from Graph Isomorphism to tensors, trying to understand tensor isomorphism by taking advantage of isomorphisms of small sub-tensors. This leads to tensor analogues of the Graph Reconstruction conjecture and related questions.

Based on joint works with Vyacheslav V. Futorny and Vladimir V. Sergeichuk (Lin. Alg. Appl., 2019; arXiv:1810.09219), with Peter A. Brooksbank, Yinan Li, Youming Qiao, and James B. Wilson (arXiv:1905.02518), and with Youming Qiao (arXiv:1907.00309).

Nov
4
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Jingfeng Wu
Nov 4 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Jingfeng Wu
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Direction Matters: On the Implicit Regularization Effect of Stochastic Gradient Descent with Moderate Learning Rate

Abstract:
Understanding the algorithmic regularization effect of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is one of the key challenges in modern machine learning and deep learning theory. Most of the existing works, however, focus on very small or even infinitesimal learning rate regime, and fail to cover practical scenarios where the learning rate is moderate and annealing. In this paper, we make an initial attempt to characterize the particular regularization effect of SGD in the moderate learning rate regime by studying its behavior for optimizing an overparameterized linear regression problem. In this case, SGD and GD are known to converge to the unique minimum-norm solution; however, with the moderate and annealing learning rate, we show that they exhibit different directional bias: SGD converges along the large eigenvalue directions of the data matrix, while GD goes after the small eigenvalue directions. Furthermore, we show that such directional bias does matter when early stopping is adopted, where the SGD output is nearly optimal but the GD output is suboptimal. Finally, our theory explains several folk arts in practice used for SGD hyperparameter tuning, such as (1) linearly scaling the initial learning rate with batch size; and (2) overrunning SGD with high learning rate even when the loss stops decreasing.

Nov
11
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Arnold Filtser
Nov 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Arnold Filtser
Affiliation: Columbia University

Title: Scattering and Sparse Partitions, and their Applications
Abstract:
A partition $\mathcal{P}$ of a weighted graph $G$ is $(\sigma,\tau,\Delta)$-sparse if every cluster has diameter at most $\Delta$, and every ball of radius $\Delta/\sigma$ intersects at most $\tau$ clusters. Similarly, $\mathcal{P}$ is $(\sigma,\tau,\Delta)$-scattering if instead for balls we require that every shortest path of length at most $\Delta/\sigma$ intersects at most $\tau$ clusters. Given a graph $G$ that admits a $(\sigma,\tau,\Delta)$-sparse partition for all $\Delta>0$, Jia et al. [STOC05] constructed a solution for the Universal Steiner Tree problem (and also Universal TSP) with stretch $O(\tau\sigma^2\log_\tau n)$. Given a graph $G$ that admits a $(\sigma,\tau,\Delta)$-scattering partition for all $\Delta>0$, we construct a solution for the Steiner Point Removal problem with stretch $O(\tau^3\sigma^3)$. We then construct sparse and scattering partitions for various different graph families, receiving new results for the Universal Steiner Tree and Steiner Point Removal problems.

Dec
2
Wed
[Theory Seminar] Yu Zheng
Dec 2 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Speaker: Yu Zheng
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University

Title: Space Efficient Deterministic Approximation of String Measures

Abstract:
We study approximation algorithms for the following three string measures that are widely used in practice: edit distance (ED), longest common subsequence (LCS), and longest increasing sequence (LIS). All three problems can be solved exactly by standard algorithms that run in polynomial time with roughly $\Theta(n)$ space, where $n$ is the input length, and our goal is to design deterministic approximation algorithms that run in polynomial time with significantly smaller space.

Towards this, we design several algorithms that achieve $1+\eps$ or $1-\eps$ approximation for all three problems, where $\eps>0$ can be any constant and even slightly sub constant. Our algorithms are flexible and can be adjusted to achieve the following two regimes of parameters: 1) space $n^{\delta}$ for any constant $\delta>0$ with running time essentially the same as or slightly more than the standard algorithms; and 2) space $\mathsf{polylog}(n)$ with (a larger) polynomial running time, which puts the approximation versions of the three problems in Steve’s class (SC). Our algorithms significantly improve previous results in terms of space complexity, where all known results need to use space at least $\Omega(\sqrt{n})$. Some of our algorithms can also be adapted to work in the asymmetric streaming model [SS13], and output the corresponding sequence. Furthermore, our results can be used to improve a recent result by Farhadi et. al. [FHRS20] about approximating ED in the asymmetric streaming model, reducing the running time from being exponential in [FHRS20] to a polynomial.

Our algorithms are based on the idea of using recursion as in Savitch’s theorem [Sav70], and a careful adaption of previous techniques to make the recursion work. Along the way we also give a new logspace reduction from longest common subsequence to longest increasing sequence, which may be of independent interest.