Communication Complexity of Statistical Distance

Author Thomas Watson

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Thomas Watson

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Thomas Watson. Communication Complexity of Statistical Distance. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2017). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 81, pp. 49:1-49:10, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2017)


We prove nearly matching upper and lower bounds on the randomized communication complexity of the following problem: Alice and Bob are each given a probability distribution over $n$ elements, and they wish to estimate within +-epsilon the statistical (total variation) distance between their distributions. For some range of parameters, there is up to a log(n) factor gap between the upper and lower bounds, and we identify a barrier to using information complexity techniques to improve the lower bound in this case. We also prove a side result that we discovered along the way: the randomized communication complexity of n-bit Majority composed with n-bit Greater-Than is Theta(n log n).
  • Communication
  • complexity
  • statistical
  • distance


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