The concept of matrix rigidity was first introduced by Valiant in [Friedman, 1993]. Roughly speaking, a matrix is rigid if its rank cannot be reduced significantly by changing a small number of entries. There has been extensive interest in rigid matrices as Valiant showed in [Friedman, 1993] that rigidity can be used to prove arithmetic circuit lower bounds.

In a surprising result, Alman and Williams showed that the (real valued) Hadamard matrix, which was conjectured to be rigid, is actually not very rigid. This line of work was extended by [Dvir and Edelman, 2017] to a family of matrices related to the Hadamard matrix, but over finite fields. In our work, we take another step in this direction and show that for any abelian group G and function f:G - > {C}, the matrix given by M_{xy} = f(x - y) for x,y in G is not rigid. In particular, we get that complex valued Fourier matrices, circulant matrices, and Toeplitz matrices are all not rigid and cannot be used to carry out Valiantâ€™s approach to proving circuit lower bounds. This complements a recent result of Goldreich and Tal [Goldreich and Tal, 2016] who showed that Toeplitz matrices are nontrivially rigid (but not enough for Valiantâ€™s method). Our work differs from previous non-rigidity results in that those works considered matrices whose underlying group of symmetries was of the form {F}_p^n with p fixed and n tending to infinity, while in the families of matrices we study, the underlying group of symmetries can be any abelian group and, in particular, the cyclic group {Z}_N, which has very different structure. Our results also suggest natural new candidates for rigidity in the form of matrices whose symmetry groups are highly non-abelian.

Our proof has four parts. The first extends the results of [Josh Alman and Ryan Williams, 2016; Dvir and Edelman, 2017] to generalized Hadamard matrices over the complex numbers via a new proof technique. The second part handles the N x N Fourier matrix when N has a particularly nice factorization that allows us to embed smaller copies of (generalized) Hadamard matrices inside of it. The third part uses results from number theory to bootstrap the non-rigidity for these special values of N and extend to all sufficiently large N. The fourth and final part involves using the non-rigidity of the Fourier matrix to show that the group algebra matrix, given by M_{xy} = f(x - y) for x,y in G, is not rigid for any function f and abelian group G.