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Title: Guest Column: Approximate Degree in Classical and Quantum Computing
The approximate degree of a Boolean function f captures how well f can be approximated pointwise by low-degree polynomials. This article surveys what we know about approximate degree and illustrates some of its applications in theoretical computer science.
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48 to 72
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National Science Foundation
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  1. The epsilon-approximate degree, deg_epsilon(f), of a Boolean function f is the least degree of a real-valued polynomial that approximates f pointwise to within epsilon. A sound and complete certificate for approximate degree being at least k is a pair of probability distributions, also known as a dual polynomial, that are perfectly k-wise indistinguishable, but are distinguishable by f with advantage 1 - epsilon. Our contributions are: - We give a simple, explicit new construction of a dual polynomial for the AND function on n bits, certifying that its epsilon-approximate degree is Omega (sqrt{n log 1/epsilon}). This construction is the first to extend to the notion of weighted degree, and yields the first explicit certificate that the 1/3-approximate degree of any (possibly unbalanced) read-once DNF is Omega(sqrt{n}). It draws a novel connection between the approximate degree of AND and anti-concentration of the Binomial distribution. - We show that any pair of symmetric distributions on n-bit strings that are perfectly k-wise indistinguishable are also statistically K-wise indistinguishable with at most K^{3/2} * exp (-Omega (k^2/K)) error for all k < K <= n/64. This bound is essentially tight, and implies that any symmetric function f is a reconstruction function with constant advantagemore »for a ramp secret sharing scheme that is secure against size-K coalitions with statistical error K^{3/2} * exp (-Omega (deg_{1/3}(f)^2/K)) for all values of K up to n/64 simultaneously. Previous secret sharing schemes required that K be determined in advance, and only worked for f=AND. Our analysis draws another new connection between approximate degree and concentration phenomena. As a corollary of this result, we show that for any d <= n/64, any degree d polynomial approximating a symmetric function f to error 1/3 must have coefficients of l_1-norm at least K^{-3/2} * exp ({Omega (deg_{1/3}(f)^2/d)}). We also show this bound is essentially tight for any d > deg_{1/3}(f). These upper and lower bounds were also previously only known in the case f=AND.« less
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