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We study the communication cost (or message complexity) of fundamental distributed symmetry breaking problems, namely, coloring and MIS. While significant progress has been made in understanding and improving the running time of such problems, much less is known about the message complexity of these problems. In fact, all known algorithms need at least Ω(m) communication for these problems, where m is the number of edges in the graph. We addressthe following question in this paper: can we solve problems such as coloring and MIS using sublinear, i.e., o(m) communication, and if sounder what conditions?
In a classical result, Awerbuch, Goldreich, Peleg, and Vainish [JACM 1990] showed that fundamental global problems such asbroadcast and spanning tree construction require at least o(m) messages in the KT-1 Congest model (i.e., Congest model in which nodes have initial knowledge of the neighbors' ID's) when algorithms are restricted to be comparison-based (i.e., algorithms inwhich node ID's can only be compared). Thirty five years after this result, King, Kutten, and Thorup [PODC 2015] showed that onecan solve the above problems using Õ(n) messages (n is the number of nodes in the graph) in Õ(n) rounds in the KT-1 Congest model if non-comparison-based algorithms are permitted. An important implication of this result is that one can use the synchronous nature of the KT-1 Congest model, using silence to convey information,and solve any graph problem using non-comparison-based algorithms with Õ(n) messages, but this takes an exponential number of rounds. In the asynchronous model, even this is not possible.
In contrast, much less is known about the message complexity of local symmetry breaking problems such as coloring and MIS. Our paper fills this gap by presenting the following results. Lower bounds: In the KT-1 CONGEST model, we show that any comparison-based algorithm, even a randomized Monte Carlo algorithm with constant success probability, requires Ω(n 2) messages in the worst case to solve either (△ + 1)-coloring or MIS, regardless of the number of rounds. We also show that Ω(n) is a lower bound on the number ofmessages for any (△ + 1)-coloring or MIS algorithm, even non-comparison-based, and even with nodes having initial knowledge of up to a constant radius. Upper bounds: In the KT-1 CONGEST model, we present the following randomized non-comparison-based algorithms for coloring that, with high probability, use o(m) messages and run in polynomially many rounds.(a) A (△ + 1)-coloring algorithm that uses Õ(n1.5) messages, while running in Õ(D + √ n) rounds, where D is the graph diameter. Our result also implies an asynchronous algorithm for (△ + 1)-coloring with the same message bound but running in Õ(n) rounds. (b) For any constantε > 0, a (1+ε)△-coloring algorithm that uses Õ(n/ε 2 ) messages, while running in Õ(n) rounds. If we increase our input knowledge slightly to radius 2, i.e.,in the KT-2 CONGEST model, we obtain:(c) A randomized comparison-based MIS algorithm that uses Õ(n 1.5) messages. while running in Õ( √n) rounds.
While our lower bound results can be viewed as counterparts to the classical result of Awerbuch, Goldreich, Peleg, and Vainish [JACM 90], but for local problems, our algorithms are the first-known algorithms for coloring and MIS that take o(m) messages and run in polynomially many rounds.

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