Hardness Results for Weaver’s Discrepancy Problem

Authors Daniel A. Spielman, Peng Zhang

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Daniel A. Spielman
  • Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
Peng Zhang
  • Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA

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Daniel A. Spielman and Peng Zhang. Hardness Results for Weaver’s Discrepancy Problem. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 245, pp. 40:1-40:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Marcus, Spielman and Srivastava (Annals of Mathematics 2014) solved the Kadison-Singer Problem by proving a strong form of Weaver’s conjecture: they showed that for all α > 0 and all lists of vectors of norm at most √α whose outer products sum to the identity, there exists a signed sum of those outer products with operator norm at most √{8α} + 2α. We prove that it is NP-hard to distinguish such a list of vectors for which there is a signed sum that equals the zero matrix from those in which every signed sum has operator norm at least η √α, for some absolute constant η > 0. Thus, it is NP-hard to construct a signing that is a constant factor better than that guaranteed to exist. For α = 1/4, we prove that it is NP-hard to distinguish whether there is a signed sum that equals the zero matrix from the case in which every signed sum has operator norm at least 1/4.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Problems, reductions and completeness
  • Theory of computation → Design and analysis of algorithms
  • Discrepancy Problem
  • Kadison-Singer Problem
  • Hardness of Approximation


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