Hardness of Approximate Nearest Neighbor Search

Aviad Rubinstein

We prove conditional near-quadratic running time lower bounds for approximate Bichromatic Closest Pair with Euclidean, Manhattan, Hamming, or edit distance. Specifically, unless the Strong Exponential Time Hypothesis (SETH) is false, for every $\delta>0$ there exists a constant $\epsilon>0$ such that computing a $(1+\epsilon)$-approximation to the Bichromatic Closest Pair requires $n^{2-\delta}$ time. In particular, this implies a near-linear query time for Approximate Nearest Neighbor search with polynomial preprocessing time. Our reduction uses the Distributed PCP framework of [ARW'17], but obtains improved efficiency using Algebraic Geometry (AG) codes. Efficient PCPs from AG codes have been constructed in other settings before [BKKMS'16, BCGRS'17], but our construction is the first to yield new hardness results.

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