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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 9, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  3. Aggregating data is fundamental to data analytics, data exploration, and OLAP. Approximate query processing (AQP) techniques are often used to accelerate computation of aggregates using samples, for which confidence intervals (CIs) are widely used to quantify the associated error. CIs used in practice fall into two categories: techniques that are tight but not correct, i.e., they yield tight intervals but only offer asymptoticguarantees,makingthem unreliable, or techniques that are correct but not tight, i.e., they offer rigorous guarantees, but are overly conservative, leading to confidence intervals that are too loose to be useful. In this paper, we develop a CI technique that is both correct and tighter than traditional approaches. Starting from conservative CIs, we identify two issues they often face: pessimistic mass allocation (PMA) and phantom outlier sensitivity (PHOS). By developing a novel range-trimming technique for eliminating PHOS and pairing it with known CI techniques without PMA, we develop a technique for computing CIs with strong guarantees that requires fewer samples for the same width. We implement our techniques underneath a sampling-optimized in-memory column store and show how they accelerate queries involving aggregates on real datasets with typical speedups on the order of 10× over both traditional AQP-with-guarantees and exact methods, all while obeying accuracy constraints. 
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  4. We study the question of testing structured properties (classes) of discrete distributions. Specifically, given sample access to an arbitrary distribution D over [n] and a property P, the goal is to distinguish between D ∈ P and ℓ1(D, P) > ε. We develop a general algorithm for this question, which applies to a large range of “shape-constrained” properties, including monotone, log-concave, t-modal, piecewise-polynomial, and Poisson Binomial distributions. Moreover, for all cases considered, our algorithm has near-optimal sample complexity with regard to the domain size and is computationally efficient. For most of these classes, we provide the first non-trivial tester in the literature. In addition, we also describe a generic method to prove lower bounds for this problem, and use it to show our upper bounds are nearly tight. Finally, we extend some of our techniques to tolerant testing, deriving nearly–tight upper and lower bounds for the corresponding questions. 
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