Hardness of Bichromatic Closest Pair with Jaccard Similarity

Authors Rasmus Pagh , Nina Mesing Stausholm , Mikkel Thorup

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Author Details

Rasmus Pagh
  • BARC, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Nina Mesing Stausholm
  • BARC, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Mikkel Thorup
  • BARC, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark


We want to thank A. Rubinstein for helping us understand the background of his results in [Aviad Rubinstein, 2018].

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Rasmus Pagh, Nina Mesing Stausholm, and Mikkel Thorup. Hardness of Bichromatic Closest Pair with Jaccard Similarity. In 27th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 144, pp. 74:1-74:13, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


Consider collections A and B of red and blue sets, respectively. Bichromatic Closest Pair is the problem of finding a pair from A x B that has similarity higher than a given threshold according to some similarity measure. Our focus here is the classic Jaccard similarity |a cap b|/|a cup b| for (a,b) in A x B. We consider the approximate version of the problem where we are given thresholds j_1 > j_2 and wish to return a pair from A x B that has Jaccard similarity higher than j_2 if there exists a pair in A x B with Jaccard similarity at least j_1. The classic locality sensitive hashing (LSH) algorithm of Indyk and Motwani (STOC '98), instantiated with the MinHash LSH function of Broder et al., solves this problem in Õ(n^(2-delta)) time if j_1 >= j_2^(1-delta). In particular, for delta=Omega(1), the approximation ratio j_1/j_2 = 1/j_2^delta increases polynomially in 1/j_2. In this paper we give a corresponding hardness result. Assuming the Orthogonal Vectors Conjecture (OVC), we show that there cannot be a general solution that solves the Bichromatic Closest Pair problem in O(n^(2-Omega(1))) time for j_1/j_2 = 1/j_2^o(1). Specifically, assuming OVC, we prove that for any delta>0 there exists an epsilon>0 such that Bichromatic Closest Pair with Jaccard similarity requires time Omega(n^(2-delta)) for any choice of thresholds j_2 < j_1 < 1-delta, that satisfy j_1 <= j_2^(1-epsilon).

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Problems, reductions and completeness
  • fine-grained complexity
  • set similarity search
  • bichromatic closest pair
  • jaccard similarity


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