The Power of an Example: Hidden Set Size Approximation Using Group Queries and Conditional Sampling

Dana Ron, Gilad Tsur

We study a basic problem of approximating the size of an unknown set $S$ in a known universe $U$. We consider two versions of the problem. In both versions the algorithm can specify subsets $T\subseteq U$. In the first version, which we refer to as the group query or subset query version, the algorithm is told whether $T\cap S$ is non-empty. In the second version, which we refer to as the subset sampling version, if $T\cap S$ is non-empty, then the algorithm receives a uniformly selected element from $T\cap S$. We study the difference between these two versions under different conditions on the subsets that the algorithm may query/sample, and in both the case that the algorithm is adaptive and the case where it is non-adaptive. In particular we focus on a natural family of allowed subsets, which correspond to intervals, as well as variants of this family.

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