Local Approximations of the Independent Set Polynomial

Authors Dimitris Achlioptas, Kostas Zampetakis

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Dimitris Achlioptas
  • Department of Informatics & Telecommunications, University of Athens, Greece
Kostas Zampetakis
  • Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz, CA, USA


We are deeply grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their extremely thorough review of our submission and for an abundance of insightful comments and suggestions that greatly clarified the presentation and motivated the improvement of some of the results.

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Dimitris Achlioptas and Kostas Zampetakis. Local Approximations of the Independent Set Polynomial. In 48th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2021). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 198, pp. 8:1-8:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2021)


The independent set polynomial of a graph has one variable for each vertex and one monomial for each independent set, comprising the product of the corresponding variables. Given a graph G on n vertices and a vector p ∈ [0,1)ⁿ, a central problem in statistical mechanics is determining whether the independent set polynomial of G is non-vanishing in the polydisk of p, i.e., whether |Z_G(x)| > 0 for every x ∈ ℂⁿ such that |x_i| ≤ p_i. Remarkably, when this holds, Z_G(-p) is a lower bound for the avoidance probability when G is a dependency graph for n events whose probabilities form vector p. A local sufficient condition for |Z_G| > 0 in the polydisk of p is the Lovász Local Lemma (LLL). In this work we derive several new results on the efficient evaluation and bounding of Z_G. Our starting point is a monotone mapping from subgraphs of G to truncations of the tree of self-avoiding walks of G. Using this mapping our first result is a local upper bound for Z(-p), similar in spirit to the local lower bound for Z(-p) provided by the LLL. Next, using this mapping, we show that when G is chordal, Z_G can be computed exactly and in linear time on the entire complex plane, implying perfect sampling for the hard-core model on chordal graphs. We also revisit the task of bounding Z(-p) from below, i.e., the LLL setting, and derive four new lower bounds of increasing sophistication. Already our simplest (and weakest) bound yields a strict improvement of the famous asymmetric LLL, i.e., a strict relaxation of the inequalities of the asymmetric LLL without any further assumptions. This new asymmetric local lemma is sharp enough to recover Shearer’s optimal bound in terms of the maximum degree Δ(G). We also apply our more sophisticated bounds to estimate the zero-free region of the hard-core model on the triangular lattice (hard hexagons model).

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Combinatorics
  • Theory of computation → Dynamic programming
  • Independent Set Polynomial
  • Lovász Local Lemma
  • Self-avoiding Walks


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