On the Correlation Gap of Matroids

Edin Husić, Zhuan Khye Koh, Georg Loho, László A. Végh

A set function can be extended to the unit cube in various ways; the correlation gap measures the ratio between two natural extensions. This quantity has been identified as the performance guarantee in a range of approximation algorithms and mechanism design settings. It is known that the correlation gap of a monotone submodular function is $1-1/e$, and this is tight even for simple matroid rank functions. We initiate a fine-grained study of correlation gaps of matroid rank functions. In particular, we present improved lower bounds on the correlation gap as parametrized by the rank and the girth of the matroid. We also show that the worst correlation gap of a weighted matroid rank function is achieved under uniform weights. Such improved lower bounds have direct applications for submodular maximization under matroid constraints, mechanism design, and contention resolution schemes. Previous work relied on implicit correlation gap bounds for problems such as list decoding and approval voting.

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