Property Testing on Product Distributions: Optimal Testers for Bounded Derivative Properties

Deeparnab Chakrabarty, Kashyap Dixit, Madhav Jha, C. Seshadhri

The primary problem in property testing is to decide whether a given function satisfies a certain property, or is far from any function satisfying it. This crucially requires a notion of distance between functions. The most prevalent notion is the Hamming distance over the {\em uniform} distribution on the domain. This restriction to uniformity is more a matter of convenience than of necessity, and it is important to investigate distances induced by more general distributions. In this paper, we make significant strides in this direction. We give simple and optimal testers for {\em bounded derivative properties} over {\em arbitrary product distributions}. Bounded derivative properties include fundamental properties such as monotonicity and Lipschitz continuity. Our results subsume almost all known results (upper and lower bounds) on monotonicity and Lipschitz testing. We prove an intimate connection between bounded derivative property testing and binary search trees (BSTs). We exhibit a tester whose query complexity is the sum of expected depths of optimal BSTs for each marginal. Furthermore, we show this sum-of-depths is also a lower bound. A fundamental technical contribution of this work is an {\em optimal dimension reduction theorem} for all bounded derivative properties, which relates the distance of a function from the property to the distance of restrictions of the function to random lines. Such a theorem has been elusive even for monotonicity for the past 15 years, and our theorem is an exponential improvement to the previous best known result.

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