We show that proving mildly super-linear lower bounds on non-commutative arithmetic circuits implies exponential lower bounds on non-commutative circuits. That is, non-commutative circuit complexity is a threshold phenomenon: an apparently weak lower bound actually suffices to show the strongest lower bounds we could desire.

This is part of a recent line of inquiry into why arithmetic circuit complexity, despite being a heavily restricted version of Boolean complexity, still cannot prove super-linear lower bounds on general devices. One can view our work as positive news (it suffices to prove weak lower bounds to get strong ones) or negative news (it is as hard to prove weak lower bounds as it is to prove strong ones). We leave it to the reader to determine their own level of optimism.