The expressive power of voting polynomials


We consider the problem of approximating a Boolean functionf∶{0,1}n→{0,1} by the sign of an integer polynomialp of degreek. For us, a polynomialp(x) predicts the value off(x) if, wheneverp(x)≥0,f(x)=1, and wheneverp(x)<0,f(x)=0. A low-degree polynomialp is a good approximator forf if it predictsf at almost all points. Given a positive integerk, and a Boolean functionf, we ask, “how good is the best degreek approximation tof?” We introduce a new lower bound technique which applies to any Boolean function. We show that the lower bound technique yields tight bounds in the casef is parity. Minsky and Papert [10] proved that a perceptron cannot compute parity; our bounds indicate exactly how well a perceptron canapproximate it. As a consequence, we are able to give the first correct proof that, for a random oracleA, PPA is properly contained in PSPACEA. We are also able to prove the old AC0 exponential-size lower bounds in a new way. This allows us to prove the new result that an AC0 circuit with one majority gate cannot approximate parity. Our proof depends only on basic properties of integer polynomials.

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Supported in part by NSF grants CCR-8808949 and CCR-8958528.

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Aspnes, J., Beigel, R., Furst, M. et al. The expressive power of voting polynomials. Combinatorica 14, 135–148 (1994).

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AMS subject classification code (1991)

  • 68 Q 15
  • 05 E 35
  • 42 C 10
  • 94 C 10