A Schur Complement Cheeger Inequality

Aaron Schild

Cheeger's inequality shows that any undirected graph $G$ with minimum nonzero normalized Laplacian eigenvalue $\lambda_G$ has a cut with conductance at most $O(\sqrt{\lambda_G})$. Qualitatively, Cheeger's inequality says that if the relaxation time of a graph is high, there is a cut that certifies this. However, there is a gap in this relationship, as cuts can have conductance as low as $\Theta(\lambda_G)$. To better approximate the relaxation time of a graph, we consider a more general object. Instead of bounding the mixing time with cuts, we bound it with cuts in graphs obtained by Schur complementing out vertices from the graph $G$. Combinatorially, these Schur complements describe random walks in $G$ restricted to a subset of its vertices. As a result, all Schur complement cuts have conductance at least $\Omega(\lambda_G)$. We show that unlike with cuts, this inequality is tight up to a constant factor. Specifically, there is a Schur complement cut with conductance at most $O(\lambda_G)$.

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