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TR20-081 | 21st May 2020 23:22
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#### Algebraic Hardness versus Randomness in Low Characteristic

**Abstract:**
We show that lower bounds for explicit constant-variate polynomials over fields of characteristic $p > 0$ are sufficient to derandomize polynomial identity testing over fields of characteristic $p$. In this setting, existing work on hardness-randomness tradeoffs for polynomial identity testing requires either the characteristic to be sufficiently large or the notion of hardness to be stronger than the standard syntactic notion of hardness used in algebraic complexity. Our results make no restriction on the characteristic of the field and use standard notions of hardness.

We do this by combining the Kabanets-Impagliazzo generator with a white-box procedure to take $p$-th roots of circuits computing a $p$-th power over fields of characteristic $p$. When the number of variables appearing in the circuit is bounded by some constant, this procedure turns out to be efficient, which allows us to bypass difficulties related to factoring circuits in characteristic $p$.

We also combine the Kabanets-Impagliazzo generator with recent ``bootstrapping'' results in polynomial identity testing to show that a sufficiently-hard family of explicit constant-variate polynomials yields a near-complete derandomization of polynomial identity testing. This result holds over fields of both zero and positive characteristic and complements a recent work of Guo, Kumar, Saptharishi, and Solomon, who obtained a slightly stronger statement over fields of characteristic zero.