Eigenstripping, Spectral Decay, and Edge-Expansion on Posets

by   Jason Gaitonde, et al.

Fast mixing of random walks on hypergraphs has led to myriad breakthroughs in theoretical computer science in the last five years. On the other hand, many important applications (e.g. to locally testable codes, 2-2 games) rely on a more general class of underlying structures called posets, and crucially take advantage of non-simplicial structure. These works make it clear the global expansion properties of posets depend strongly on their underlying architecture (e.g. simplicial, cubical, linear algebraic), but the overall phenomenon remains poorly understood. In this work, we quantify the advantage of different poset architectures in both a spectral and combinatorial sense, highlighting how regularity controls the spectral decay and edge-expansion of corresponding random walks. We show that the spectra of walks on expanding posets (Dikstein, Dinur, Filmus, Harsha APPROX-RANDOM 2018) concentrate in strips around a small number of approximate eigenvalues controlled by the regularity of the underlying poset. This gives a simple condition to identify poset architectures (e.g. the Grassmann) that exhibit exponential decay of eigenvalues, versus architectures like hypergraphs whose eigenvalues decay linearly – a crucial distinction in applications to hardness of approximation such as the recent proof of the 2-2 Games Conjecture (Khot, Minzer, Safra FOCS 2018). We show these results lead to a tight characterization of edge-expansion on posets in the ℓ_2-regime (generalizing recent work of Bafna, Hopkins, Kaufman, and Lovett (SODA 2022)), and pay special attention to the case of the Grassmann where we show our results are tight for a natural set of sparsifications of the Grassmann graphs. We note for clarity that our results do not recover the characterization of expansion used in the proof of the 2-2 Games Conjecture which relies on ℓ_∞ rather than ℓ_2-structure.


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