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1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
2. A Boolean {\em $k$-monotone} function defined over a finite poset domain ${\cal D}$ alternates between the values $0$ and $1$ at most $k$ times on any ascending chain in ${\cal D}$. Therefore, $k$-monotone functions are natural generalizations of the classical {\em monotone} functions, which are the {\em $1$-monotone} functions. Motivated by the recent interest in $k$-monotone functions in the context of circuit complexity and learning theory, and by the central role that monotonicity testing plays in the context of property testing, we initiate a systematic study of $k$-monotone functions, in the property testing model. In this model, the goal is to distinguish functions that are $k$-monotone (or are close to being $k$-monotone) from functions that are far from being $k$-monotone. Our results include the following: \begin{enumerate} \item We demonstrate a separation between testing $k$-monotonicity and testing monotonicity, on the hypercube domain $\{0,1\}^d$, for $k\geq 3$; \item We demonstrate a separation between testing and learning on $\{0,1\}^d$, for $k=\omega(\log d)$: testing $k$-monotonicity can be performed with $2^{O(\sqrt d \cdot \log d\cdot \log{1/\eps})}$ queries, while learning $k$-monotone functions requires $2^{\Omega(k\cdot \sqrt d\cdot{1/\eps})}$ queries (Blais et al. (RANDOM 2015)). \item We present a tolerant test for functions $f\colon[n]^d\to \{0,1\}$ with complexity independent of $n$, which makes progress on a problem left open by Berman et al. (STOC 2014). \end{enumerate} Our techniques exploit the testing-by-learning paradigm, use novel applications of Fourier analysis on the grid $[n]^d$, and draw connections to distribution testing techniques.
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