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TR23-003 | 11th January 2023 09:41

Streaming Lower Bounds and Asymmetric Set-Disjointness


Authors: Shachar Lovett, Jiapeng Zhang
Publication: 13th January 2023 09:25
Downloads: 294


Frequency estimation in data streams is one of the classical problems in streaming algorithms. Following much research, there are now almost matching upper and lower bounds for the trade-off needed between the number of samples and the space complexity of the algorithm, when the data streams are adversarial. However, in the case where the data stream is given in a random order, or is stochastic, only weaker lower bounds exist. In this work we close this gap, up to logarithmic factors.

In order to do so we consider the needle problem, which is a natural hard problem for frequency estimation studied in (Andoni et al. 2008, Crouch et al. 2016). Here, the goal is to distinguish between two distributions over data streams with $t$ samples. The first is uniform over a large enough domain. The second is a planted model; a secret ''needle'' is uniformly chosen, and then each element in the stream equals the needle with probability $p$, and otherwise is uniformly chosen from the domain. It is simple to design streaming algorithms that distinguish the distributions using space $s \approx 1/(p^2 t)$. It was unclear if this is tight, as the existing lower bounds are weaker. We close this gap and show that the trade-off is near optimal, up to a logarithmic factor.

Our proof builds and extends classical connections between streaming algorithms and communication complexity, concretely multi-party unique set-disjointness. We introduce two new ingredients that allow us to prove sharp bounds. The first is a lower bound for an asymmetric version of multi-party unique set-disjointness, where players receive input sets of different sizes, and where the communication of each player is normalized relative to their input length. The second is a combinatorial technique that allows to sample needles in the planted model by first sampling intervals, and then sampling a uniform needle in each interval.

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