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TR24-087 | 27th April 2024 16:08

Directed Isoperimetry and Monotonicity Testing: A Dynamical Approach


Authors: Renato Ferreira Pinto Jr.
Publication: 5th May 2024 07:53
Downloads: 66


This paper explores the connection between classical isoperimetric inequalities, their directed analogues, and monotonicity testing. We study the setting of real-valued functions $f : [0,1]^d \to \mathbb{R}$ on the solid unit cube, where the goal is to test with respect to the $L^p$ distance. Our goals are twofold: to further understand the relationship between classical and directed isoperimetry, and to give a monotonicity tester with sublinear query complexity in this setting.

Our main results are 1) an $L^2$ monotonicity tester for $M$-Lipschitz functions with query complexity $\widetilde O(\sqrt{d} M^2 / \epsilon^2)$ and, behind this result, 2) the directed Poincaré inequality $\text{dist}^{mono}_2(f)^2 \le C \mathbb{E}[|\nabla^- f|^2]$, where the "directed gradient" operator $\nabla^-$ measures the local violations of monotonicity of $f$.

To prove the second result, we introduce a partial differential equation (PDE), the directed heat equation, which takes a one-dimensional function $f$ into a monotone function $f^*$ over time and enjoys many desirable analytic properties. We obtain the directed Poincaré inequality by combining convergence aspects of this PDE with the theory of optimal transport. Crucially for our conceptual motivation, this proof is in complete analogy with the mathematical physics perspective on the classical Poincaré inequality, namely as characterizing the convergence of the standard heat equation toward equilibrium.

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