Bounded Independence Fools Degree-2 Threshold Functions

Diakonikolas, Ilias
Kane, Daniel M.
Nelson, Jelani
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Let x be a random vector coming from any k-wise independent distribution over {-1,1}^n. For an n-variate degree-2 polynomial p, we prove that E[sgn(p(x))] is determined up to an additive epsilon for k = poly(1/epsilon). This answers an open question of Diakonikolas et al. (FOCS 2009). Using standard constructions of k-wise independent distributions, we obtain a broad class of explicit generators that epsilon-fool the class of degree-2 threshold functions with seed length log(n)*poly(1/epsilon). Our approach is quite robust: it easily extends to yield that the intersection of any constant number of degree-2 threshold functions is epsilon-fooled by poly(1/epsilon)-wise independence. Our results also hold if the entries of x are k-wise independent standard normals, implying for example that bounded independence derandomizes the Goemans-Williamson hyperplane rounding scheme. To achieve our results, we introduce a technique we dub multivariate FT-mollification, a generalization of the univariate form introduced by Kane et al. (SODA 2010) in the context of streaming algorithms. Along the way we prove a generalized hypercontractive inequality for quadratic forms which takes the operator norm of the associated matrix into account. These techniques may be of independent interest.
Comment: Using v1 numbering: removed Lemma G.5 from the Appendix (it was wrong). Net effect is that Theorem G.6 reduces the m^6 dependence of Theorem 8.1 to m^4, not m^2
Computer Science - Computational Complexity