Optimal Fine-grained Hardness of Approximation of Linear Equations

06/24/2021
by   Mitali Bafna, et al.
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The problem of solving linear systems is one of the most fundamental problems in computer science, where given a satisfiable linear system (A,b), for A ∈ℝ^n × n and b ∈ℝ^n, we wish to find a vector x ∈ℝ^n such that Ax = b. The current best algorithms for solving dense linear systems reduce the problem to matrix multiplication, and run in time O(n^ω). We consider the problem of finding ε-approximate solutions to linear systems with respect to the L_2-norm, that is, given a satisfiable linear system (A ∈ℝ^n × n, b ∈ℝ^n), find an x ∈ℝ^n such that ||Ax - b||_2 ≤ε||b||_2. Our main result is a fine-grained reduction from computing the rank of a matrix to finding ε-approximate solutions to linear systems. In particular, if the best known O(n^ω) time algorithm for computing the rank of n × O(n) matrices is optimal (which we conjecture is true), then finding an ε-approximate solution to a dense linear system also requires Ω̃(n^ω) time, even for ε as large as (1 - 1/poly(n)). We also prove (under some modified conjectures for the rank-finding problem) optimal hardness of approximation for sparse linear systems, linear systems over positive semidefinite matrices, well-conditioned linear systems, and approximately solving linear systems with respect to the L_p-norm, for p ≥ 1. At the heart of our results is a novel reduction from the rank problem to a decision version of the approximate linear systems problem. This reduction preserves properties such as matrix sparsity and bit complexity.

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