Optimal lower bounds for universal relation, samplers, and finding duplicates

Jelani Nelson, Jakub Pachocki, Zhengyu Wang

In the communication problem $\mathbf{UR}$ (universal relation) [KRW95], Alice and Bob respectively receive $x$ and $y$ in $\{0,1\}^n$ with the promise that $x\neq y$. The last player to receive a message must output an index $i$ such that $x_i\neq y_i$. We prove that the randomized one-way communication complexity of this problem in the public coin model is exactly $\Theta(\min\{n, \log(1/\delta)\log^2(\frac{n}{\log(1/\delta)})\})$ bits for failure probability $\delta$. Our lower bound holds even if promised $\mathop{support}(y)\subset \mathop{support}(x)$. As a corollary, we obtain optimal lower bounds for $\ell_p$-sampling in strict turnstile streams for $0\le p < 2$, as well as for the problem of finding duplicates in a stream. Our lower bounds do not need to use large weights, and hold even if it is promised that $x\in\{0,1\}^n$ at all points in the stream. Our lower bound demonstrates that any algorithm $\mathcal{A}$ solving sampling problems in turnstile streams in low memory can be used to encode subsets of $[n]$ of certain sizes into a number of bits below the information theoretic minimum. Our encoder makes adaptive queries to $\mathcal{A}$ throughout its execution, but done carefully so as to not violate correctness. This is accomplished by injecting random noise into the encoder's interactions with $\mathcal{A}$, which is loosely motivated by techniques in differential privacy. Our correctness analysis involves understanding the ability of $\mathcal{A}$ to correctly answer adaptive queries which have positive but bounded mutual information with $\mathcal{A}$'s internal randomness, and may be of independent interest in the newly emerging area of adaptive data analysis with a theoretical computer science lens.

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