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  1. We develop a general framework for finding approximately-optimal preconditioners for solving linear systems. Leveraging this framework we obtain improved runtimes for fundamental preconditioning and linear system solving problems including the following. \begin{itemize} \item \textbf{Diagonal preconditioning.} We give an algorithm which, given positive definite $\mathbf{K} \in \mathbb{R}^{d \times d}$ with $\mathrm{nnz}(\mathbf{K})$ nonzero entries, computes an $\epsilon$-optimal diagonal preconditioner in time $\widetilde{O}(\mathrm{nnz}(\mathbf{K}) \cdot \mathrm{poly}(\kappa^\star,\epsilon^{-1}))$, where $\kappa^\star$ is the optimal condition number of the rescaled matrix. \item \textbf{Structured linear systems.} We give an algorithm which, given $\mathbf{M} \in \mathbb{R}^{d \times d}$ that is either the pseudoinverse of a graph Laplacian matrix or a constant spectral approximation of one, solves linear systems in $\mathbf{M}$ in $\widetilde{O}(d^2)$ time. \end{itemize} Our diagonal preconditioning results improve state-of-the-art runtimes of $\Omega(d^{3.5})$ attained by general-purpose semidefinite programming, and our solvers improve state-of-the-art runtimes of $\Omega(d^{\omega})$ where $\omega > 2.3$ is the current matrix multiplication constant. We attain our results via new algorithms for a class of semidefinite programs (SDPs) we call \emph{matrix-dictionary approximation SDPs}, which we leverage to solve an associated problem we call \emph{matrix-dictionary recovery}. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 10, 2024
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  5. We study the problem of parallelizing sampling from distributions related to determinants: symmetric, nonsymmetric, and partition-constrained determinantal point processes, as well as planar perfect matchings. For these distributions, the partition function, a.k.a.\ the count, can be obtained via matrix determinants, a highly parallelizable computation; Csanky proved it is in NC. However, parallel counting does not automatically translate to parallel sampling, as classic reductions between the two are inherently sequential. We show that a nearly quadratic parallel speedup over sequential sampling can be achieved for all the aforementioned distributions. If the distribution is supported on subsets of size $k$ of a ground set, we show how to approximately produce a sample in $\widetilde{O}(k^{\frac{1}{2} + c})$ time with polynomially many processors for any constant $c>0$. In the two special cases of symmetric determinantal point processes and planar perfect matchings, our bound improves to $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt k)$ and we show how to sample exactly in these cases. As our main technical contribution, we fully characterize the limits of batching for the steps of sampling-to-counting reductions. We observe that only $O(1)$ steps can be batched together if we strive for exact sampling, even in the case of nonsymmetric determinantal point processes. However, we show that for approximate sampling, $\widetilde{\Omega}(k^{\frac{1}{2}-c})$ steps can be batched together, for any entropically independent distribution, which includes all mentioned classes of determinantal point processes. Entropic independence and related notions have been the source of breakthroughs in Markov chain analysis in recent years, so we expect our framework to prove useful for distributions beyond those studied in this work. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 17, 2024
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