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Discrete Fourier Analysis and Its Applications

  • Author(s): Zhang, Jiapeng
  • Advisor(s): Lovett, Shachar
  • et al.
Abstract

The topic of discrete Fourier analysis has been extensively studied in recent decades. It plays an important role in theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics. One hand it is interesting to study the structure of boolean functions via discrete Fourier analysis. On the other hand, these structural results also provide a huge number of applications in theoretical computer science, including computational complexity, pseudorandomness, cryptography, learning theory. In this dissertation, we extend some more connections between discrete Fourier analysis and theoretical computer science. In particular, we study the following questions.

\begin{itemize}

\item Robust sensitivity of boolean function. In this part, we study the connection between the Fourier tail bound and the sensitivity tail bound of boolean functions, which is an analogue of the sensitivity conjecture, which was proposed by Nisan \cite{nisan1991crew}.

\item DNF sparsification. The disjunctive normal form (or DNF) is a widely used representation of boolean functions. It is very interesting to study the structure of DNFs. There are two natural ways to measure the complexity of DNFs, the width and the size. In this thesis, we study a connection between these two measures. We propose a new approach by combing the swithing lemma (a combinatoric tool) and the hypercontrativity inequality (an analytic inequality). This framework does also suggest a new approach to the famous sunflower conjecture.

\item Applications in learning theory. In 1989, the first Fourier-based learning algorithms was introduced by a seminar paper of Linial, Mansour and Nisan \cite{linial1989constant}. Followed by a series of subsequent works, people found that discrete Fourier analysis is powerful to design learning algorithms. One hand sparse Fourier functions are strong enough to approximate a lot of functions, on the other hand sparse Fourier functions are relatively easy to learn. Build on this framework, we give a more efficient algorithm to solve the \emph{population recovery} problem. That is how to recover a unknown distribution from noisy samples.

\end{itemize}

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