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Volume 14 (2018) Article 9 pp. 1-55
CCC 2016 Special Issue
Average-Case Lower Bounds and Satisfiability Algorithms for Small Threshold Circuits
Received: June 16, 2016
Revised: May 10, 2018
Published: June 5, 2018
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Keywords: complexity theory, circuit complexity, correlation bounds, threshold functions, random restrictions, learning, SAT
ACM Classification: F.1.2, F.2.3
AMS Classification: 68Q17, 68Q32

Abstract: [Plain Text Version]

We show average-case lower bounds for explicit Boolean functions against bounded-depth threshold circuits with a superlinear number of wires. We show that for each integer $d > 1,$ there is a constant $\varepsilon_d > 0$ such that the Parity function on $n$ bits has correlation at most $n^{-\varepsilon_d}$ with depth-$d$ threshold circuits which have at most $n^{1+\varepsilon_d}$ wires, and the Generalized Andreev function on $n$ bits has correlation at most $\exp(-{n^{\varepsilon_d}})$ with depth-$d$ threshold circuits which have at most $n^{1+\varepsilon_d}$ wires. Previously, only worst-case lower bounds in this setting were known (Impagliazzo, Paturi, and Saks (SICOMP 1997)).

We use our ideas to make progress on several related questions. We give satisfiability algorithms beating brute force search for depth-$d$ threshold circuits with a superlinear number of wires. These are the first such algorithms for depth greater than 2. We also show that Parity on $n$ bits cannot be computed by polynomial-size $\textsf{AC}^0$ circuits with $n^{o(1)}$ general threshold gates. Previously no lower bound for Parity in this setting could handle more than $\log(n)$ gates. This result also implies subexponential-time learning algorithms for $\textsf{AC}^0$ with $n^{o(1)}$ threshold gates under the uniform distribution. In addition, we give almost optimal bounds for the number of gates in a depth-$d$ threshold circuit computing Parity on average, and show average-case lower bounds for threshold formulas of any depth.

Our techniques include adaptive random restrictions, anti-concentration and the structural theory of linear threshold functions, and bounded-read Chernoff bounds.

A conference version of this paper appeared in the Proceedings of the 31st Conference on Computational Complexity, 2016.