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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. We consider the problem of estimating the number of distinct elements in a large data set (or, equivalently, the support size of the distribution induced by the data set) from a random sample of its elements. The problem occurs in many applications, including biology, genomics, computer systems and linguistics. A line of research spanning the last decade resulted in algorithms that estimate the support up to ±εn from a sample of size O(log2(1/ε)·n/logn), where n is the data set size. Unfortunately, this bound is known to be tight, limiting further improvements to the complexity of this problem. In this papermore »we consider estimation algorithms augmented with a machine-learning-based predictor that, given any element, returns an estimation of its frequency. We show that if the predictor is correct up to a constant approximation factor, then the sample complexity can be reduced significantly, to log(1/ε)·n1−Θ(1/log(1/ε)).We evaluate the proposed algorithms on a collection of data sets, using the neural-network based estimators from Hsu et al, ICLR’19 as predictors. Our experiments demonstrate substantial (up to 3x) improvements in the estimation accuracy com-pared to the state of the art algorithm.« less
  3. A probability distribution over the Boolean cube is monotone if flipping the value of a coordinate from zero to one can only increase the probability of an element. Given samples of an unknown monotone distribution over the Boolean cube, we give (to our knowledge) the first algorithm that learns an approximation of the distribution in statistical distance using a number of samples that is sublinear in the domain. To do this, we develop a structural lemma describing monotone probability distributions. The structural lemma has further implications to the sample complexity of basic testing tasks for analyzing monotone probability distributions overmore »the Boolean cube: We use it to give nontrivial upper bounds on the tasks of estimating the distance of a monotone distribution to uniform and of estimating the support size of a monotone distribution. In the setting of monotone probability distributions over the Boolean cube, our algorithms are the first to have sample complexity lower than known lower bounds for the same testing tasks on arbitrary (not necessarily monotone) probability distributions. One further consequence of our learning algorithm is an improved sample complexity for the task of testing whether a distribution on the Boolean cube is monotone.« less
  4. A probability distribution over the Boolean cube is monotone if flipping the value of a coordinate from zero to one can only increase the probability of an element. Given samples of an unknown monotone distribution over the Boolean cube, we give (to our knowledge) the first algorithm that learns an approximation of the distribution in statistical distance using a number of samples that is sublinear in the domain. To do this, we develop a structural lemma describing monotone probability distributions. The structural lemma has further implications to the sample complexity of basic testing tasks for analyzing monotone probability distributions overmore »the Boolean cube: We use it to give nontrivial upper bounds on the tasks of estimating the distance of a monotone distribution to uniform and of estimating the support size of a monotone distribution. In the setting of monotone probability distributions over the Boolean cube, our algorithms are the first to have sample complexity lower than known lower bounds for the same testing tasks on arbitrary (not necessarily monotone) probability distributions. One further consequence of our learning algorithm is an improved sample complexity for the task of testing whether a distribution on the Boolean cube is monotone.« less
  5. Constructing a spanning tree of a graph is one of the most basic tasks in graph theory. We consider a relaxed version of this problem in the setting of local algorithms. The relaxation is that the constructed subgraph is a sparse spanning subgraph containing at most (1+ϵ)n edges (where n is the number of vertices and ϵ is a given approximation/sparsity parameter). In the local setting, the goal is to quickly determine whether a given edge e belongs to such a subgraph, without constructing the whole subgraph, but rather by inspecting (querying) the local neighborhood of e. The challenge ismore »to maintain consistency. That is, to provide answers concerning different edges according to the same spanning subgraph. We first show that for general bounded-degree graphs, the query complexity of any such algorithm must be Ω(n−−√). This lower bound holds for constant-degree graphs that have high expansion. Next we design an algorithm for (bounded-degree) graphs with high expansion, obtaining a result that roughly matches the lower bound. We then turn to study graphs that exclude a fixed minor (and are hence non-expanding). We design an algorithm for such graphs, which may have an unbounded maximum degree. The query complexity of this algorithm is poly(1/ϵ,h) (independent of n and the maximum degree), where h is the number of vertices in the excluded minor. Though our two algorithms are designed for very different types of graphs (and have very different complexities), on a high-level there are several similarities, and we highlight both the similarities and the differences.« less
  6. Consider an algorithm performing a computation on a huge random object (for example a random graph or a "long" random walk). Is it necessary to generate the entire object prior to the computation, or is it possible to provide query access to the object and sample it incrementally "on-the-fly" (as requested by the algorithm)? Such an implementation should emulate the random object by answering queries in a manner consistent with an instance of the random object sampled from the true distribution (or close to it). This paradigm is useful when the algorithm is sub-linear and thus, sampling the entire objectmore »up front would ruin its efficiency. Our first set of results focus on undirected graphs with independent edge probabilities, i.e. each edge is chosen as an independent Bernoulli random variable. We provide a general implementation for this model under certain assumptions. Then, we use this to obtain the first efficient local implementations for the Erdös-Rényi G(n,p) model for all values of p, and the Stochastic Block model. As in previous local-access implementations for random graphs, we support Vertex-Pair and Next-Neighbor queries. In addition, we introduce a new Random-Neighbor query. Next, we give the first local-access implementation for All-Neighbors queries in the (sparse and directed) Kleinberg’s Small-World model. Our implementations require no pre-processing time, and answer each query using O(poly(log n)) time, random bits, and additional space. Next, we show how to implement random Catalan objects, specifically focusing on Dyck paths (balanced random walks on the integer line that are always non-negative). Here, we support Height queries to find the location of the walk, and First-Return queries to find the time when the walk returns to a specified location. This in turn can be used to implement Next-Neighbor queries on random rooted ordered trees, and Matching-Bracket queries on random well bracketed expressions (the Dyck language). Finally, we introduce two features to define a new model that: (1) allows multiple independent (and even simultaneous) instantiations of the same implementation, to be consistent with each other without the need for communication, (2) allows us to generate a richer class of random objects that do not have a succinct description. Specifically, we study uniformly random valid q-colorings of an input graph G with maximum degree Δ. This is in contrast to prior work in the area, where the relevant random objects are defined as a distribution with O(1) parameters (for example, n and p in the G(n,p) model). The distribution over valid colorings is instead specified via a "huge" input (the underlying graph G), that is far too large to be read by a sub-linear time algorithm. Instead, our implementation accesses G through local neighborhood probes, and is able to answer queries to the color of any given vertex in sub-linear time for q ≥ 9Δ, in a manner that is consistent with a specific random valid coloring of G. Furthermore, the implementation is memory-less, and can maintain consistency with non-communicating copies of itself.« less
  7. Consider an algorithm performing a computation on a huge random object. Is it necessary to generate the entire object up front, or is it possible to provide query access to the object and sample it incrementally "on-the-fly"? Such an implementation should emulate the object by answering queries in a manner consistent with a random instance sampled from the true distribution. Our first set of results focus on undirected graphs with independent edge probabilities, under certain assumptions. Then, we use this to obtain the first efficient implementations for the Erdos-Renyi model and the Stochastic Block model. As in previous local-access implementationsmore »for random graphs, we support Vertex-Pair and Next-Neighbor queries. We also introduce a new Random-Neighbor query. Next, we show how to implement random Catalan objects, specifically focusing on Dyck paths (always positive random walks on the integer line). Here, we support Height queries to find the position of the walk, and First-Return queries to find the time when the walk returns to a specified height. This in turn can be used to implement Next-Neighbor queries on random rooted/binary trees, and Matching-Bracket queries on random well bracketed expressions. Finally, we define a new model that: (1) allows multiple independent simultaneous instantiations of the same implementation to be consistent with each other without communication (2) allows us to generate a richer class of random objects that do not have a succinct description. Specifically, we study uniformly random valid q-colorings of an input graph G with max degree Δ. The distribution over valid colorings is specified via a "huge" underlying graph G, that is far too large to be read in sub-linear time. Instead, we access G through local neighborhood probes. We are able to answer queries to the color of any vertex in sub-linear time for q>9Δ.« less
  8. The noise sensitivity of a Boolean function f:{0,1}n→{0,1} is one of its fundamental properties. A function of a positive noise parameter δ, it is denoted as NSδ[f]. Here we study the algorithmic problem of approximating it for monotone f, such that NSδ[f]≥1/nC for constant C, and where δ satisfies 1/n≤δ≤1/2. For such f and δ, we give a randomized algorithm performing O(min(1,n√δlog1.5n)NSδ[f]poly(1ϵ)) queries and approximating NSδ[f] to within a multiplicative factor of (1±ϵ). Given the same constraints on f and δ, we also prove a lower bound of Ω(min(1,n√δ)NSδ[f]⋅nξ) on the query complexity of any algorithm that approximates NSδ[f] tomore »within any constant factor, where ξ can be any positive constant. Thus, our algorithm's query complexity is close to optimal in terms of its dependence on n. We introduce a novel descending-ascending view of noise sensitivity, and use it as a central tool for the analysis of our algorithm. To prove lower bounds on query complexity, we develop a technique that reduces computational questions about query complexity to combinatorial questions about the existence of "thin" functions with certain properties. The existence of such "thin" functions is proved using the probabilistic method. These techniques also yield previously unknown lower bounds on the query complexity of approximating other fundamental properties of Boolean functions: the total influence and the bias.« less
  9. There has been significant study on the sample complexity of testing properties of distributions over large domains. For many properties, it is known that the sample complexity can be substantially smaller than the domain size. For example, over a domain of size n, distinguishing the uniform distribution from distributions that are far from uniform in ℓ1-distance uses only O(n−−√) samples. However, the picture is very different in the presence of arbitrary noise, even when the amount of noise is quite small. In this case, one must distinguish if samples are coming from a distribution that is ϵ-close to uniform frommore »the case where the distribution is (1−ϵ)-far from uniform. The latter task requires nearly linear in n samples (Valiant, 2008; Valiant and Valiant, 2017a). In this work, we present a noise model that on one hand is more tractable for the testing problem, and on the other hand represents a rich class of noise families. In our model, the noisy distribution is a mixture of the original distribution and noise, where the latter is known to the tester either explicitly or via sample access; the form of the noise is also known \emph{a priori}. Focusing on the identity and closeness testing problems leads to the following mixture testing question: Given samples of distributions p,q1,q2, can we test if p is a mixture of q1 and q2? We consider this general question in various scenarios that differ in terms of how the tester can access the distributions, and show that indeed this problem is more tractable. Our results show that the sample complexity of our testers are exactly the same as for the classical non-mixture case.« less