# Some Optimal Inapproximability Results

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1 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results JOHAN HÅSTAD Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden Abstract. We prove optimal, up to an arbitrary ɛ>0, inapproximability results for Max-Ek-Sat for k 3, maximizing the number of satisfied linear equations in an over-determined system of linear equations modulo a prime p and Set Splitting. As a consequence of these results we get improved lower bounds for the efficient approximability of many optimization problems studied previously. In particular, for Max-E-Sat, Max-Cut, Max-di-Cut, and Vertex cover. Categories and Subject Descriptors: F. [Analysis of Algorithms and Problem Complexity]: Nonnumerical Algorithms and Problems General Terms: Theory Additional Key Words and Phrases: Inapproximability, linear equations, max-sat, NP-hard optimization problems, probabilistically checkable proofs. Introduction Many natural optimization problems are NP-hard, which implies that they are probably hard to solve exactly in the worst case. In practice, however, it is sufficient to get reasonably good solutions for all or even most) instances. In this paper, we study the existence of polynomial time approximation algorithms for some of the basic NP-complete problems. For a maximization problem we say that an algorithm is a C-approximation algorithm if it, for each instance, produces an solution whose objective value is at least OPT/C where OPT is the global optimum. A similar definition applies to minimization problems. A fundamental question is, for a given NP-complete problem, for what value of C can we hope for a polynomial time C-approximation algorithm. Posed in this generality, this is a large research area with many positive and negative results. In this paper, we concentrate on negative results, that is, results of the form that for some C > a certain problem cannot be approximated within C in polynomial time. These results are invariably based on plausible complexity theoretic assumptions, the weakest possible being NP P since if NP = P, all considered problems can be solved exactly in polynomial time. The most basic NP-complete problem is satisfiability of CNF-formulas and probably the most used variant of this is 3-SAT where each clause contains at most 3 An earlier version of this paper appeared in Proceedings of the 9th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing El Paso, Tex., May 4 6). ACM, New York, 997, pp. 0. Author s address: Department of Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, Royal Institute of Technology, S Stockholm, Sweden, Permission to make digital/hard copy of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage, the copyright notice, the title of the publication, and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the Association for Computing Machinery ACM), Inc. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. C 00 ACM /0/ \$5.00 Journal of the ACM, Vol. 48, No. 4, July 00, pp

2 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 799 variables. For simplicity, let us assume that each clause contains exactly three variables. The optimization variant of this problem is to satisfy as many clauses as possible. It is not hard to see that a random assignment satisfies each clause with probability 7/8 and hence if there are m clauses it is not hard even deterministically) to find an assignment that satisfies 7m/8 clauses. Since we can never satisfy more than all the clauses this gives a 8/7-approximation algorithm. This was one of the first approximation algorithms considered [Johnson 974] and one of the main results of this paper is that this is optimal to within an arbitrary additive constant ɛ>0. A problem that in many respects is as basic as satisfiability is that of solving a system of linear equations over a field. If all equations can be satisfied simultaneously, then a satisfying assignment can be found in polynomial time by Gaussian elimination. Gaussian elimination is, however, very sensitive to incorrect equations. In particular, if we are given an over-determined system of equations, it is not clear how to efficiently find the best solution, where we interpret best as satisfying the maximal number of equations. This problem is NP-complete over the field of two elements since already the special case of having equations only of the form x i + x j = is equivalent to Max-Cut. We believe that as an optimization problem this problem will play a natural and important role. As with 3-SAT there is an obvious approximation algorithm that just does as well as assigning random values to the variables. In this case, a random assignment satisfies half the equations and thus this yields a -approximation algorithm. One of the main results of this paper is to prove that this is, again upto an arbitrary ɛ>0 and based on NP P, the best possible for a polynomial time approximation algorithm. This is true even if each equation only contains exactly three variables. Other results included in this paper are similar results for linear equations over an arbitrary Abelian group Ɣ and set splitting of sets of size 4. By reductions, we get improved constants for Max--Sat, Max-Cut and Max-di-Cut and Vertex Cover. These reductions are all from the problem of satisfying the maximal number of equations in a system of linear equations over the field of two elements... SHORT HISTORY AND OUR CONTRIBUTION. The question of proving NPhardness of approximation problems was discussed at length already in the book by Garey and Johnson [979], but really strong results were not obtained until the connection with multiprover interactive proofs was discovered in the seminal paper of Feige et al. [996]. There are a number of variants of multiprover interactive proofs and the two proof models that we use in this paper are that of two-prover interactive proofs and that of probabilistically checkable proofs. The first model was introduced by Ben-Or et al. [988] and here the verifier interacts with two provers who cannot communicate with each other. Probabilistically checkable proofs, which from here on we abbreviate PCPs, correspond to oracle proof systems studied by Fortnow et al. [994], and it was given its current name in the paper by Arora and Safra [998]. In a PCP, the verifier does few) random spot-checks in a large) written proof. Note that a two-prover interactive proof can be turned into a PCP simply by writing down the answers of both provers to all possible questions. The verifier

3 800 JOHAN HÅSTAD would then simply check the answers to the questions it intended to pose. For a complete account of the history of the entire area we refer to Bellare et al. [998], but let us here give a short account of the path leading to the current results. The surprising power of multiprover interactive proofs was first established by Babai et al. [99a] by showing that multiprover proofs with a polynomial time verifier could recognize all of NEXPTIME. This was scaled down to give very efficient verifiers for simpler predicates by Babai et al. [99b] and the connection to approximability was discovered by Feige et al. [996]. To obtain stronger bounds, to weaken assumptions, and to widen the range of problems for which the methods applied, more efficient proofs were sought. Arora and Safra [998] discovered proof composition and were the first to construct PCPs for NP-hard problems with a verifier that used logarithmic randomness and sublogarithmic query complexity. The first result proving hardness for the problems we are discussing here was obtained in the fundamental paper by Arora et al. [998] that establishes the celebrated PCP-theorem that states that each language in NP has a PCP where the verifier reads only a constant number of bits and uses a logarithmic number of random coins. This result implies that there is some constant C > such that Max- 3-Sat cannot be approximated within C unless NP = P. The first explicit constant was given by Bellare et al. [993] and based on a slightly stronger hypothesis they achieved the constant 94/93. Bellare and Sudan [994] improved this to 66/65 and the strongest result prior to our results here is by Bellare et al. [998] obtaining the bound 80/77 ɛ for any ɛ>0. The last two papers [Bellare and Sudan 994; Bellare et al. 998], use a similar approach to ours and let us describe this approach. The starting point is an efficient multiprover protocol, which in our case and in Bellare et al. [998] comes naturally from a combination of the basic PCP by Arora et al. [998] mentioned above and the wonderful parallel repetition theorem of Raz [998]. Bellare and Sudan [994] used a different protocol since the theorem by Raz was not known at that point in time. The multiprover protocol is turned into a PCP by writing down the answers of the provers in coded form. The main source of the improvements of Bellare et al. [998] was the invention of a new code, the marvelous long code. The long code of an input x {0,} u is a string of length u. The coordinates correspond to all possible functions f : {0, } u {0, } and the coordinate corresponding to f takes the value f x). It is a very wasteful encoding but if u is a constant it is of constant size and it is hence, at least in theory, affordable. When a multiprover protocol is transformed to a PCP by writing down coded versions of the prover s answers the verifier can, if the coding is suitable, perform its verification in the multiprover protocol much more efficiently. The freedom to code the answers might, however, also help a cheating prover in that it can write down a string that is not a correct codeword and the verifier has to make sure that such behavior does not destroy the soundness of the new PCP. This forced previous verifiers under these circumstances to perform two tasks, to check to original conditions of the multiprover protocol and to check that the coding is correct. We use the same written proof as Bellare et al. [998] and our improvement comes from the ability to completely integrate the two tasks of checking acceptance in the

4 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 80 two-prover protocol with checking that we have a correct coding of the prover s answers. We do not really check that the coding is correct in that all we need is that it is possible, given a written proof for the PCP that convinces the verifier to accept with high probability, to extract a strategy for the provers in the two-prover game. Previously, such strategies were extracted by looking at the legitimate codewords that were close i.e., agreed for more than half the inputs) to the codewords presented by the prover. In our case, we extract the strategies by looking at discrete Fourier transform of these given codewords. The written proof is the same in most of our tests yielding inapproximability result for the various problems we study. The acceptance criteria are, however, specially designed to suit the targeted optimization problem. For example, for the result for linear equations the verifier decides whether to accept based solely on the exclusive-or of three bits. This philosophy of designing special purpose PCPs for each optimization problem was first done on a major scale by Bellare et al. [998]. It seems like this is required to obtain tight result for the problems discussed in this paper. This special design might make some of our tests seem awkward but this is probably inevitable. For some other problems, most notably clique [Håstad 994] and almost for its relative chromatic number [Feige and Kilian 998]), the optimal results are established by looking at natural parameters of the PCP and in particular by studying the number of free bits read by the verifier. Informally, assuming that a verifier always accepts a correct proof of a correct statement, this number is defined as follows. A bit read in a PCP is not free if, at the time of reading, the verifier will always reject unless it has a prespecified value. If this is not the case, the bit is free. The only problem in our paper that relates in a straightforward way to such natural parameters of a PCP is vertex cover. A PCP that uses f free bits has completeness c and soundness s gives an inapproximability factor of f s f c for vertex cover. Our proof system giving the result for linear equations has f =, c = ɛ and s = / + ɛ yielding an inapproximability factor arbitrarily close to 7/6. As this is our only use of free bits, we do not define it explicitly but rather refer to Bellare et al. [998] for its formal definition as well as a thorough discussion of the free bit concept and its applications to inapproximability results and to the theory of PCPs in general... SUMMARY OF RESULTS. For easy reference, we state most of our results in tabular form. We also compare to the best previous lower bounds as well as the performance ratio of the best polynomial time approximation algorithms. In most cases, the previously best result was obtained by Bellare et al. [998] and for a detailed account of the earlier history of each problem we refer to this paper. For formal definitions of the stated problems, we refer to Section.. The number δ below has the meaning a positive but unspecified constant while ɛ can be replaced by any positive constant. The assumption used in all the lower bounds is P NP.

5 80 JOHAN HÅSTAD Upper Prev. best lower Our lower Constant Source Constant Source 8 E3-LIN- folklore ɛ Note ) ɛ 7 E3-LIN-p p folklore p δ Note ) p ɛ E3-LIN-Ɣ Ɣ folklore Ɣ ɛ E-LIN-.383 Note 3) ɛ 8 80 E3-SAT Note 4) ɛ Note ) 8 ɛ E-SAT.074 Note 5) ɛ Note ) ɛ E4-Set Splitting folklore + δ Note 6) ɛ Max-Cut.383 Note 3) ɛ Note ) 7 ɛ Max-di-Cut.64 Note 3) ɛ Note ) ɛ 7 33 Vertex cover Note 7) ɛ Note ) 7 ɛ 8 6 Notes: ) Bellare et al. [998]. ) Amaldi and Kann [995]. 3) Goemans and Williamson [995]. 4) Johnson [974]. 5) Feige and Goemans [995]. 6) Kann et al. [996]. 7) Garey and Johnson [979], Bar-Yehuda and Even [98], and Hochbaum [983]. Our lower bounds using gadgets E-SAT, E-LIN-, Max-Cut, Max-di-Cut) rely on the gadgets produced by Trevisan et al. [000] and since the prior published work in some cases depended on worse gadgets the improvements are not only due to our results. The -approximation algorithm for vertex cover is an unpublished result due to Gavril that is given in Garey and Johnson [979]. The case of weighted graphs was treated by Bar-Yehuda and Even [98] and Hochbaum [983]. The inapproximability result for linear systems of equations mod p of Amaldi and Kann [995] needed arbitrary systems of linear equations mod p and hence did not, strictly speaking, apply to Max-E3-Lin-p. An outline of the paper is as follows: In Section, we introduce notation, give definitions and state some needed results from earlier papers. Most of our PCPs use the same written proof and in Section 3 we describe this proof. In Section 4, we describe tests for being a correct long code. These tests are presented for pedagogical reasons but are in Section 5 naturally extended to give the results for linear equations. In Section 6, we give the results on Max-k-Sat and in Section 7 we give corresponding results for Set Splitting. We obtain some results for other problems in Section 8. We finally briefly discuss how to make our arbitrary constants be functions of the input-length in Section 9 and end by some concluding remarks. This is the complete version of the results announced in Håstad [997].. Notation and Some Essential Previous Results In this section, we give basic notation and collect the needed results from earlier papers.

6 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results BASIC NOTATION. All logarithms in this paper are to the base. We use vertical bars to denote the size of an object. For a real or complex number, it is the absolute value; for strings, it is the length; and for sets, the size. We use the notation α β for two sets α and β to denote the symmetric difference, that is, the elements that appear in exactly one of the sets α and β. The notation α \ β denotes the elements in α but not in β. In sums and products, we always indicate the variable over which the sum/product is taken. Sometimes, however, we do not explicitly give the range. This happens when this range is considered obvious and it is usually the case that we are summing over all objects of the given kind. An empty sum is taken to be 0 and an empty product takes the value. The expected value of a variable X is denoted by E f [X] assuming we are taking the expected value over a random f. We do not give the distribution of this f, which is supposed to be clear from the context. For most of the paper, we work with binary-valued objects, but for a number of reasons it is more convenient for us to work over {, } rather than the standard {0, }. Welet correspond to true and our most important Boolean operation is exclusive-or, which is in our notation the same as multiplication. We also need other Boolean operations like, which is defined in the usual way using true and false, and the fact that is short for true and is short for false. Thus, in particular, = and =. We do not distinguish a set of variables and the set of indices of these variables. For a set U of variables, we let {, } U be the set of all possible assignments to these variables and we use {, } n instead of {, } [n]. Suppose U W, then, for x {,} W, we denote its restriction to the variables occurring in U by x U. For a set α {,} W, we define π U α) by letting x {,} U belong to π U α) if x = y U for some y α. We also need a mod -projection and we let x π U α) iff α contains and odd number of elements y such that y U = x. When the identity of the set U is evident from the context the superscript of π is omitted. For a set U, weletf U be the set of all functions f : {, } U {, }. A central point in this paper is to study functions A : F U {, }. One particular type of such functions is given by the long codes of assignments.. [Bellare et al. 998]. The long code of an assignment x {,} U is the mapping A x : F U {, } where A x f ) = f x). We identify a function with its truth-table and thus a long code is a string of length U where we use an arbitrary but fixed convention to order the elements of F U. A CNF-formula is a formula ϕ of n Boolean variables x i ) i= n given by m clauses C j ) j= m. A clause contains a number of literals, that is, variables or their negations, and it is true if at least one of the literals is true. The number of literals in a clause is the length of the clause. Definition.. Let e [0, ] be a real number. A CNF-formula ϕ with m clauses is e-satisfiable, iff some assignment satisfies em clauses and no assignment satisfies more than em clauses. Using the natural extension of this, we say that ϕ is at most e-satisfiable if it is d-satisfiable for some d e.

7 804 JOHAN HÅSTAD.. PROBLEMS CONSIDERED. Let us give formal definitions of the problems we consider in this paper. Definition.3. Let k be an integer. A CNF-formula is an Ek-CNF-formula iff each clause is of length exactly k. For a CNF-formula ϕ and an assignment x let Nϕ, x) be the number of clauses of ϕ satisfied by x. Definition.4. Max-Ek-Sat is the optimization problem of, given a Ek-CNF formula ϕ,tofindxthat maximizes Nϕ, x). We are also interested in the problem of solving systems of linear equations over the finite field with elements. Let us denote a typical system of linear equations L and, similarly to above, for an assignment x let NL, x) be the number of equations of L satisfied by x. Definition.5. Max-Ek-Lin- is the problem of, given a system L of linear equations over Z, with exactly k variables in each equation, to find x that maximizes NL, x). Definition.6. Max-Cut is the problem of given an undirected graph G with vertices V to find a partition V, V of V such that the number of edges {u, v} such that {u, v} V and {u, v} V are both nonempty is maximized. Definition.7. Max-di-Cut is the problem of, given a directed graph G with vertices V, to find a partition V, V of V such that the number of directed edges u, v) such that u V and v V is maximized. Definition.8. Vertex Cover is the problem of, given an undirected graph G with edges E and vertices V, to find a V V with V minimal such that V intersects each edge. Definition.9. Ek-Set Splitting. Given a ground set V and a number of sets S i V each of size exactly k. Find a partition V, V of V to maximize the number of i with both S i V and S i V nonempty. Note that E-Set Splitting is exactly Max-Cut and that E3-Set Splitting is very related to E-Set Splitting in that the set x, y, z) is split exactly when two of the three pairs x, y), x, z) and y, z) are split. Thus, the first really new problem is E4-Set Splitting. Several of the above problems are special cases of a general class of problems called constraint satisfaction problems CSP). Let k be an integer and let P be a predicate {, } k {, }. An instance of CSP-P is given by a collection C i ) i= m of k-tuples of literals. For an assignment to the variables, a particular k-tuple is satisfied if P, when applied to values of the literals, returns. For an instance I and an assignment x, weletni,x,p)be the number of constraints of I satisfied by x under the predicate P. Definition.0. Max-CSP-P is the problem of, given an instance I, to find the assignment x that maximizes NI, x, P). It is straightforward to check that Max-Ek-Sat, Max-Ek-Lin, Max-Cut, and Maxdi-Cut are all CPSs for particular predicates P. We are also interested in cases when

8 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 805 negation is not allowed. We call such monotone CSP and one particular case is given by Ek-Set Splitting. A key parameter for a CSP is the number of assignments that satisfy the defining predicate P. Definition.. The weight, wp, k), of a CSP problem given by a predicate P on k Boolean variables is defined as p k where p is the number of assignments in {, } k that satisfies P. The weight of Ek-Max-Lin- is / for any k,itis k for Ek-Max-Sat, / for Max-Cut, /4 for Max-di-Cut and k for Ek-Set Splitting. We note that the concept extends in the obvious way to non-boolean domains. For each of the above problems, we could think of both finding the numerical answer e.g., the size of a certain cut) or the object that gives this answer e.g., the partition giving the numerical answer). The lower bounds we prove apply to the simpler variant, that is, the variant where the algorithm is supposed to supply the numerical answer. Since we are proving inapproximability results, this only makes our results stronger. Finally, we define what it means to C-approximate an optimization problem. Definition.. Let O be a maximization problem and let C be a real number. For an instance x of O let OPTx) be the optimal value. A C-approximation algorithm is an algorithm that on each input x outputs a number V such that OPTx)/C V OPTx). Definition.3. Let O be a minimization problem and let C be a real number. For an instance x of O let OPTx) be the optimal value. A C-approximation algorithm is an algorithm that on each input x outputs a number V such that OPTx) V C OPTx). Definition.4. An efficient C-approximation algorithm is a C-approximation algorithm that runs in worst-case polynomial time. The formulation having performance ratio C is sometimes used as an alternative to saying being a C-approximation algorithm. Any Max-CSP-problem has an approximation algorithm with constant performance. THEOREM.5. A Max-CSP given by predicate P on k variables admits a polynomial time approximation algorithm with performance ratio wp, k). PROOF. A random assignment satisfies a given k-tuple with probability wp, k). It is not difficult to find an assignment that satisfies this fraction of the given k-tuples by the method of conditional expected values. We omit the details. The main point of this paper is to establish that for many CSPs, Theorem.5 is in fact the best possible for a polynomial-time approximation algorithm. Definition.6. A Max-CSP given by predicate P on k variables is nonapproximable beyond the random assignment threshold iff, provided that NP P, for any ɛ>0, it does not allow a polynomial time approximation algorithm with performance ratio wp, k) ɛ.

9 806 JOHAN HÅSTAD Some CSP become easier if you only consider satisfiable instances but some do not. We formalize also this notion. Definition.7. A Max-CSP given by predicate P on k variables is nonapproximable beyond the random assignment threshold on satisfiable instances iff, for any ɛ>0 it is NP-hard to distinguish instances where all constraints can be simultaneously satisfied from those where only a fraction w P, k) + ɛ of the constraints can be simultaneously satisfied..3. PROOF SYSTEMS. We define proofs systems by the properties of the verifier. The verifier needs help to verify a statement and we allow a verifier to have access to one or more oracles. In different variants of proof systems, the notions of provers and written proofs are discussed. Written proofs are, in fact, identical with proofs using oracles where reading the ith bit corresponds to asking the oracle the question i?. Provers, in general, are more powerful than oracles in that they are allowed to be randomized and history dependent. We discuss these complications in connection with the definition of two-prover protocols below. Definition.8. An oracle is a function {0, }. A typical verifier V π x, r) is a probabilistic Turing machines where π is the oracle, x the input and r the internal) random coins of V. We say that the verifier accepts if it outputs written as V π x, r) = ) and otherwise it rejects. Definition.9. Let c and s be real numbers such that c > s 0. A probabilistic polynomial time Turing machine V is a verifier in a Probabilistically Checkable Proof PCP) with soundness s and completeness c for a language L iff For x L there exists an oracle π such that Pr r [V π x, r) = ] c. For x L, for all π Pr r [V π x, r) = ] s. We are interested in a number of properties of the verifier and one property that is crucial to us is that V does not use too much randomness. Definition.0. The verifier V uses logarithmic randomness if there is an absolute constant c such that on each input x and proof π, the length of the random string r used by V π is bounded by c log x. Using logarithmic randomness makes the total number of possible sets of coin flips for V polynomial in x and hence all such sets can be enumerated in polynomial time. We also care about the number of bits V reads from the proof. Definition.. The verifier V reads c bits in a PCP if, for each outcome of its random coins and each proof π, V π asks at most c questions to the oracle. The surprising power of interactive proofs was first established in the case of one prover by Lund et al. [99], and Shamir [99] and then for many provers by Babai et al. [99a]. After the fundamental connection with approximation was discovered by Feige et al. [996] the parameters of the proofs improved culminating in the following result [Arora and Safra 998; Arora et al. 998]. THEOREM. [ARORA ET AL. 998]. There is a universal integer c such that any language in NP has a PCP with soundness / and completeness where V uses logarithmic randomness and reads at most c bits of the proof.

10 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 807 Remark.3 Although the number of bits read is independent of which language in NP we are considering, this is not true for the amount of randomness. The number of random bits is d log n for any language L, but the constant d depends on L. The soundness can be improved by repeating the protocol a constant number of times. The number of bits can be reduced to 3 but this pushes the soundness towards, although it remains a constant below one. Properties described by reading three bits of the proof can be coded by a 3-CNF formula where the variables correspond to bits of the proof. The acceptance probability of a proof is then closely related to the number of clauses satisfied by the corresponding assignment and we obtain an inapproximability result for Max-3Sat. There is an approximation-preserving reduction [Papadimitrion and Yannakakis 99] reducing general 3-CNF formulas to 3-CNF formulas in which each variable appears a bounded number of times. It has later been established [Feige 998] that we can make each variable appear exactly 5 times even if we require each clause to be of length exactly 3. These properties ensure that choosing a clause uniformly at random and a variable, uniformly at random, in this clause is the same as choosing a variable uniformly at random variable and then, uniformly at random, a clause containing this variable. THEOREM.4 [ARORA ET AL. 998]. Let L be a language in NP and x be a string. There is a universal constant c < such that, we can in time polynomial in x construct a E3-CNF formula ϕ x,l such that if x L, then ϕ x,l is satisfiable while if x L, ϕ x,l is at most c-satisfiable. Furthermore, each variable appears exactly 5 times. We next describe a two-prover one-round interactive proof. The verifier in such a proof has access to two oracles but has the limitation that it can only ask one question to each oracle and that both questions have to be produced before either of them is answered. We do not limit the answer size of the oracles but since the verifier runs in polynomial time it will not read more than a polynomial number of bits. We call the two oracles P and P and the two questions q and q. Since the oracles are only accessed through these questions, we refer to the fact that V accepts as V x, r, P q ), P q )) =. Definition.5. Let c and s be real numbers such that c > s 0. A probabilistic polynomial time Turing machine V with two oracles is a verifier in a two-prover one-round proof system with soundness s and completeness c for a language L if on input x it produces, without interacting with its oracles, two strings q and q, such that For x L, there are two oracles P and P such that Pr r [Vx,r, P q ), P q )) = ] c. For x L, for any two oracles P and P, Pr r [Vx,r, P q ), P q )) = ] s. The questions q and q are in both cases the only questions V asks the oracles. P q ) depends on x, but may not depend on q and similarly P is independent of q. It is very convenient to think of P and P as two actual dynamic provers rather than written proofs. They are infinitely powerful and are cooperating. They can

12 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 809 functions χ α. In other words, for each α {,} U, Â α =A,χ α )= u f Af) x α fx). We also have the Fourier inversion formula A f ) = Â α χ α f ) = Â α f x). ) α {,} U α {,} U x α The Fourier coefficients are real numbers and we have Parseval s identity Â α = A f ). u α f This sum is, in this paper, usually since we mostly study A with range {, }. The reader might be more familiar with the Fourier transform of ordinary functions and hence with the formulas ˆF α = n x Fx) i α x i and Fx) = α [n] ˆF α x i. Pattern matching tells us that the difference is that {, } U takes the place of [n]. The inputs to ordinary functions are n bit strings, which can be thought of as mappings from [n] to{, }. The inputs to our functions are mappings from {, } U to {, } and this explains the change from [n] to{, } U. Suppose A is the long code of an input x 0. By definition, the basis function χ {x0 } is exactly this long code. Thus, the Fourier transform satisfies Â {x0 } = while all the other Fourier coefficients are 0. A significant part of this paper consists of manipulations of Fourier expansions and let us state a couple of basic facts for future reference. The proofs of the first two are straightforward and are left to the reader. LEMMA.7. For any f, g F U and α {,} U, we have χ α fg)= χ α f)χ α g). LEMMA.8. For any f F U and α, β {,} U, we have χ α f )χ β f ) = χ α β f ). LEMMA.9. Let k be an integer and suppose that for each i k we have a random variable f i whose range is F Ui and that we are given α i {,} U i. Suppose that there is an i 0 and x 0 {,} U i 0 such that x 0 α i0 and that f i0 x 0 ) is random with the uniform distribution and independent of f i x) for all i, x) i 0, x 0 ) with x α i. Then [ ] k E χ αi f i ) = 0, i= where the expectation is taken over a random selection of f i ) k i=. In particular, E[χ α f )] = 0 when f is chosen randomly with the uniform probability and α. i α

13 80 JOHAN HÅSTAD PROOF. By the independence condition, we have, with α i = α i for i i 0 and α i 0 = α i0 {x 0 }, [ ] k E χ αi f i ) = E [ f i0 x 0 ) ] [ ] k E χ α i f i ) = 0 i= since the first factor is 0. In many cases, we have U W and we have f F U that we want to interpret as a function on {, } W. We do this by ignoring the coordinates not belonging to U. We use the same symbol f, but we write f y U ) to make the restriction of the domain explicit. We have the following basic fact. LEMMA.30. Assume U W and f F U. Then for any β {,} W, we have χ β f ) = χ π U β) f ). PROOF. i= We use the definition χ β f ) = f y U ). y β The number of times a value x appears in this product is exactly the number of y β such that π U y) = x. Since we only care whether the sum is even or odd, the product equals f x) x π U β) and this is exactly χ π U β) f )..5. FOLDING AND CONDITIONING OF LONG CODES. It is many times convenient to make sure that A f ) = A f) is true for all f. The mechanism to achieve this was introduced by Bellare et al. [998] and was called folding over since was used to denote true. Here, we are folding over but to emphasize that we are using the same notion we call it folding over true. Definition.3. Given a function A: F U {, }. The function A true, folding A over true is defined by for each pair f, f ) selecting one of the two functions. If f is selected then A true f ) = A f ) and A true f ) = Af). If f is selected then A true f ) = A f) and A true f ) = A f ). Note that the definition implies that A true f ) = A true f ) is always true. The function A true depends on the selection function but since this dependence is of no importance we leave it implicit. LEMMA.3. If B = A true, then for all α with ˆB α 0, we have that α is odd and in particular α is not empty. PROOF. By definition: ˆB α = u B f ) f x). f x α Since B f ) = B f) while x α f x) = x α f x)) when α is even the two terms corresponding to f and f cancel each other and hence the sum is 0.

14 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 8 We sometimes know that the input x for which a given table A is supposed to be the long code should satisfy hx) = i.e., h is true) for some function h. This was also needed in the paper by Bellare et al. [998] where they defined folding over h analogously to folding over. We need a stronger property which we call conditioning upon h. Definition.33. For functions A: F U {, } and h F U, we define the function A h : F U {, }, that we call A conditioned upon h by setting, for each f, A h f ) = A f h). We have the following lemma: LEMMA.34. Let B = A h where A : F U {, } and h F U are arbitrary. Then, for any α such that there exists x α with hx) = we have ˆB α = 0. PROOF. Let us first note that the conclusion is natural since B f ), by definition, only depends on the value of f at points such that hx) = and hence these are the only inputs that should appear in the Fourier expansion. Formally, we use the definition ˆB α = u f B f ) x α f x). Now suppose there is x 0 α such that hx 0 ) =. Then, for any f, consider f, where f x 0 ) = fx 0 ) while f x) = f x) for x x 0. The set of all functions is divided into u pairs f, f ) and since B f ) = B f ) while x α f x) = x α f x) the elements of a pair cancel each other in the above sum and thus the sum evaluates to 0. We can apply folding over true and conditioning upon h simultaneously by defining a pairing of all functions of the type g h). Note that unless h is identically true not both f and f can be of this form and we pair g h) with g) h) and define A h,true f )asaf h)if f his chosen in its pair and as A f ) h) if f ) h is chosen. It is easy to verify that A h,true f ) = A h,true f ) and that A h,true f ) only depends on f h..6. EXTENSIONS TO ARBITRARY ABELIAN GROUPS. We extend some results to arbitrary Abelian groups and hence we extend the definitions in the previous section, which applied to the group with elements, to general Abelian groups. Let Ɣ be an Abelian group. By the structure theorem [Judson 994] of Abelian groups Ɣ can be represented as a direct product of cyclic groups, Ɣ = C i C i C i3 C ik. The number of elements, Ɣ, ofɣis k l= i l. We represent a cyclic group C i as the ith roots of unity and an element γ of Ɣ is thus a k-tuple of complex numbers and the group operation is coordinate-wise multiplication. We also need the dual group Ɣ of Ɣ which is the group of homomorphisms of Ɣ into the complex numbers. We need very few properties of the dual group and we refer to Judson [974] for a general discussion. For Abelian groups, Ɣ is isomorphic to Ɣ but we choose to represent it as elements of Z i Z i Z ik where the group operation is component-wise addition. With γ = γ, γ,...,γ k ) Ɣ

15 8 JOHAN HÅSTAD and γ = γ, γ,...,γ k ) Ɣ we let γ γ be the complex number k i= γ γ i i. We are here using slightly nonstandard terminology. As defined above the dual group should really be functions mapping Ɣ to the complex numbers C. An element of the dual group is given by γ and the associated function, in our notation, is γ γ γ. We do not here make the distinction between γ and the function it represents. We let F Ɣ U be the set of functions f : {, }U Ɣ and we have a generalization of the long code. Definition.35. The long Ɣ-code of an assignment x {,} U is the mapping A x : FU Ɣ Ɣ where A x f ) = f x). We next define the Fourier transform. We study function A: FU Ɣ C where C are the complex numbers. The basis functions are given by functions α : {, } U Ɣ and are defined by χ α f ) = f x) αx). x {,} U We have the inner product defined by A, B) = Ɣ u f Af)Bf), where B f ) denotes complex conjugation. The basis functions form a complete orthonormal system and we define the Fourier coefficients by which is inverted by Â α = A,χ α ), A f ) = α Â α χ α f ). ) The numbers Â α are complex numbers and Parseval s identity gives, Â α = Ɣ u Af) =, α f if we are working with a function satisfying A f ) = for all f. We have three lemmas extending Lemmas.7,.8, and Lemma.9. The first two follow in a straightforward way from the definitions. LEMMA.36. For any f, g F Ɣ U and α: {, }U Ɣ, we have χ α fg) = χ α f)χ α g). LEMMA.37. For any f F Ɣ U and α, β: {, }U Ɣ, we have χ α f ) χ β f ) = χ α + β f ).

16 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 83 LEMMA.38. Let k be an integer and suppose that for i k we have a random variable f i whose range is FU Ɣ i and we are given α i : {, } U i Ɣ. Suppose that there is an i 0 and x 0 {,} U i 0 such that α i0 x 0 ) 0 k and that f i0 x 0 ) is random with the uniform distribution and independent of f i x) for all i, x) i 0, x 0 ) with α i x) 0 k. Then [ ] k E χ αi f i ) = 0. i= In particular for any α that is not identically 0 k, we have E[χ α f )] = 0 when f is chosen uniformly at random. PROOF. By definition k k χ αi f i ) = f i x) α i x). i= i= x {,} U i Now f i0 x 0 ) α i 0 x 0 ) appears in this product and is by assumption independent of all other factors. We need just observe that E γ [γ α ] = 0 for γ chosen uniformly in Ɣ and α 0 k. This follows since γ α ranges over a full set of roots of unity. We have a natural extension of π U. Definition.39. Let U W and β: {, } W Ɣ. Then πɣ U β) = α where αx) = y:y U =x βy). We next have the analogue of Lemma.30. Also the proof is analogous to and we omit it. LEMMA.40. Assume U W and f FU Ɣ. Then, for any β: {, }W Ɣ we have χ β f ) = χ π U Ɣ β) f ). When working with long Ɣ-codes, we need to fold over Ɣ. Definition.4. Given a function A: FU Ɣ Ɣ. The function A Ɣ, folding A over Ɣ is defined by for each set of functions γ f ) γ Ɣ selecting one function. If γ 0 f is selected, then A Ɣ γ f ) = γγ 0 Aγ 0 f ) for all γ Ɣ. A long Ɣ-code A has range Ɣ and since we want to study functions with a range in C, typically we study A γ for some γ Ɣ. Multiplying such a function by the group element γ should multiply the result by γ γ and thus the below definition is natural. Definition.4. Given a function A: FU Ɣ C and γ Ɣ. The function A is γ -homogeneous if for each f FU Ɣ and γ Ɣ we have Aγ f ) = A f ). γγ We have the following consequence of the definitions. LEMMA.43. Given a function A: FU Ɣ Ɣ, and γ Ɣ. Then, if B = A Ɣ, we have that B γ is γ -homogeneous. PROOF. From the definition of folding, it follows that Bγ f ) = γ B f ). The lemma is now immediate.

17 84 JOHAN HÅSTAD We need the consequence for the Fourier transform. LEMMA.44. Given A: F Ɣ U C, and γ Ɣ and assume that A is γ - homogeneous. Then, for all α with Â α 0, we have x αx) = γ. In particular if γ is nonzero, there is some x with αx) 0 k. PROOF. Assume that x αx) γ and take some γ G with γ γ x αx). We have Now using Â α = f A f )χ α f ) = f Aγ f )χ α γ f ). 3) χ α γ f ) = χ α f ) x γ αx) = γ x αx) χ α f ) and the assumption of being γ -homogeneous we see that the right-hand side of 3) equals γ γ A f )γ x αx) χ α f ) = γ γ x αx) Â α. We conclude that Â α = 0. f The notion of conditioning extends without virtually any changes. Definition.45. From a function A: FU Ɣ R for any range R and h F U, we construct a function A h, called A conditioned upon h by for each f, A h f ) = A f h). Here f h is defined by f hx) = f x) when hx) = and f hx) = k otherwise. We state the corresponding lemma without a proof. LEMMA.46. Let A: FU Ɣ C and h F U be arbitrary and set B = A h. Then for any α such that there exists x with αx) 0 k and hx) = we have ˆB α = 0. The computational problem we study is given by systems of linear equations in the group Ɣ. IfLis such a system, we let NL, x) be the number of equations satisfied by x. Definition.47. Max-Ek-Lin-Ɣ is the problem of given a system L of linear equations over an Abelian group Ɣ, with exactly k variables in each equation, find x that maximizes NL, x). 3. The Basic Two-Prover Protocol and the Corresponding PCP To get our inapproximability results, we construct a range of different PCPs. Most of these PCPs have the same written proof, and only the method to check this proof is customized to fit the combinatorial problem in mind. In this section, we show how to construct this written proof by going through a two-prover protocol. We start with a 3-CNF formula ϕ given by Theorem.4. Thus, either ϕ is satisfiable or it is at most c-satisfiable for some c < and it is NP-hard to distinguish the two cases. We also have the property that each clause is exactly 3 in length and each variable appears in exactly 5 clauses.

18 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 85 Basic two-prover protocol {Input. A 3-CNF formula, ϕ = C C C m, where C j contains the variables x a j, x b j and x c j. Verifier. Choose j [m] and k {a j,b j,c j }both uniformly at random and send j to P and k to P.. Receive values for x a j, x b j and x c j from P and for x k from P. Accept iff the two values for x k agree and C j is satisfied. We have: LEMMA 3.. If ϕ is c-satisfiable, then for any P and P, V accepts in the basic two-prover protocol with probability at most + c)/3. PROOF. The answers by P define an assignment α 0 to all variables. Whenever V chooses a clause not satisfied by α 0, either P answers with an unsatisfying assignment, causing V to reject outright or has at least probability /3 of being caught for not being consistent with P. Since α 0 satisfies at most a fraction c of the clauses the probability of V rejecting is at least c)/3. The basic two-prover protocol is good in that V only asks for the value of four bits, but it is bad in that the acceptance probability is rather close to. We improve this second parameter by running the protocol in parallel. u parallel two-prover protocol Input. A 3-CNF formula, ϕ = C C C m where C j contains the variables x a j, x b j and x c j. Verifier. For i =,,...,u, choose j i [m] and k i {a ji,b ji,c ji }all uniformly at random and independently and send j i ) i= u to P and k i ) i= u to P.. Receive values for x a ji, x b ji and x c ji from P and for x ki from P for i =,,...,u. Accept iff the two values for x ki agree and C ji is satisfied for all i u. By applying Theorem.6 and Lemma 3. and using the honest strategy when ϕ is satisfiable, we get: LEMMA 3.. If ϕ is c-satisfiable, where c <, then there is a constant c c < such that for any integer u, the optimal strategy for P and P causes V to accept in the u-parallel two-prover protocol with probability at most cc u.ifϕis satisfiable, then V can be made to always accept. To simplify notation, we denote a set of variables k i ) i= u sent to P by U and a set x a ji, x b ji, x c ji ) i= u sent to P by W. Thus, typically, a set U is of size u and a set W is of size 3u. Now we want to convert this u-parallel two-prover protocol into a PCP. We write down for each possible question the long code of the answer. We call this proof, the Standard Written Proof SWP). Definition 3.3. A Standard Written Proof with parameter u SWPu)), contains for each set V [n] of size at most 3u a string of length V, which we interpret as the table of a function A V : F V {, }. Definition 3.4. An SWPu) isacorrect proof for a formula ϕ of n variables if there is an assignment x that satisfies ϕ such that A V is the long code of x V for any V of size at most 3u.

19 86 JOHAN HÅSTAD The size of a SWPu) is about n 3u 3u and thus, as long as u is a constant, it is of polynomial size. When accessing a long code on a set of inputs for which we have some information like a set of clauses on these inputs being true), we use conditioning. We use the notation A V,h rather than A V ) h for the table A V conditioned upon h. We often fold the tables over true, yielding a function called A V,h,true. The general strategy for proving inapproximability for an optimization problem is to design a test of SWPu) that closely mimics the optimization problem. The standard proof strategy for establishing that such a PCP has small soundness is to prove that if a specific SWPu) passes a particular test with high probability then we can use this proof to create strategies for P and P to convince the verifier in u-parallel two-prover protocol to accept with high probability. Finally, we generalize the notation to deal with long-ɣ-codes. Definition 3.5. A Standard Written Ɣ-Proof with parameter u SWƔ Pu)) contains for each set V [n] of size at most 3u a string of length Ɣ V that we interpret as the table of a function A V : FV Ɣ Ɣ. The symbols of the proof represent elements of Ɣ. Definition 3.6. An SWƔ Pu) isacorrect proof for a formula ϕ of n variables if there is an assignment x which satisfies ϕ such that A V is the long Ɣ-code of x V for any V of size at most 3u. 4. Testing a Long Code Having collected all the important tools, we are now ready to describe the first interesting test; namely, to test whether a given function A: F U {, } is a long code of some input x. This test has no consequences for the optimization problems we want to study, and we present it for pedagogical reasons. It is easy to analyze, given the correct tools, but still gives a nontrivial conclusion. In most previous code-testing situations [Arora et al. 998; Arora and Safra 998; Bellare et al. 998] the key parameter that has been analyzed is the distance from a given word to different code words. This is a natural parameter, but considering only distances turns out to be too restrictive. We follow the path of Håstad [999] and use a strategy not only based on distances but on the complete Fourier transform that, for any A that passes the test with high probability, associates a small set of inputs. These inputs can later be used as strategies in the underlying two-prover interactive proof. Long code test, first attempt Written proof. A string of length u, to be thought of as a function A : F U {, }. Desired property. The function A should be a long code, that is, there exists an x {,} U such that for all f, A f ) = f x). Verifier. Choose f 0 and f from F U with the uniform probability.. Set f = f 0 f, that is, define f by for each x {,} U, f x)= f 0 x)f x). 3. Accept iff A f 0 )A f )A f ) =.

20 Some Optimal Inapproximability Results 87 First note that V always accepts a correct proof since, if A is the correct long code for x 0, then A f 0 )A f )A f ) = f 0 x 0 ) f x 0 ) f x 0 ) = f0 x 0) f x 0 ) =, and we need to analyze the acceptance probability when A is not a correct long code. A random A is accepted with probability / and thus this acceptance probability does not have any implications on the structure of A. We will establish, however, that any A that is accepted with probability + δ)/ for δ>0 must have some special structure. By definition, A f 0 )A f )A f ) is one when the test accepts and negative one when it fails, and thus under the above assumption E f0, f [A f 0 )A f )A f )] = δ. 4) We replace A f i ) by its Fourier expansion, that is, using ), and see that 4) equals [ ] E f0, f Â α0 Â α Â α χ α0 f 0 )χ α f )χ α f ). 5) α 0,α,α Using the linearity of expectation, 5) equals [ Â α0 Â α Â α E f0, f χα0 f 0 )χ α f )χ α f ) ]. 6) α 0,α,α By the definition of f, Lemma.7, and Lemma.8, we have χ α0 f 0 )χ α f )χ α f ) = χ α0 f 0 )χ α f )χ α f 0 f ) = χ α0 f 0 )χ α f )χ α f 0 )χ α f ) = χ α0 α f 0 )χ α α f ). Since f 0 and f are independent, 6) equals [ Â α0 Â α Â α E f0 χα0 α f 0 ) ] [ E f χα α f ) ]. 7) α 0,α,α By Lemma.9, we to see that, unless α 0 = α,wehavee f0 [χ α0 α f 0 )] = 0. Similarly, unless α = α, E f [χ α α f )] = 0. Using these two facts, we see that 7) simplifies to Â 3 α. Now, since α Â α =, we have that Â 3 α max Â α α α α α Â α = max α We conclude that this maximum is at least δ. Thus, we have proved that there is at least one α such that Â α δ and by Parseval s equality there can be at most δ such α. Thus, with any A that causes the test to accept with high probability, we can associate a small number of sets but, since each set might be large, we have failed to find a small set of inputs. Since the test accepts with probability one, if A = χ α, we cannot do much better with the current test. In fact, what we have presented is the linearity test of Blum et al. [993] and one part of the analysis given in the paper by Bellare et al. [996]. To make the test closer to a test of the long code, we give up perfect completeness and allow for a small probability of rejecting a correct long code. Â α.

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