Ham Sandwich is Equivalent to Borsuk-Ulam

Authors Karthik C. S., Arpan Saha

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Karthik C. S.
Arpan Saha

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Karthik C. S. and Arpan Saha. Ham Sandwich is Equivalent to Borsuk-Ulam. In 33rd International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2017). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 77, pp. 24:1-24:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2017)


The Borsuk-Ulam theorem is a fundamental result in algebraic topology, with applications to various areas of Mathematics. A classical application of the Borsuk-Ulam theorem is the Ham Sandwich theorem: The volumes of any n compact sets in R^n can always be simultaneously bisected by an (n-1)-dimensional hyperplane. In this paper, we demonstrate the equivalence between the Borsuk-Ulam theorem and the Ham Sandwich theorem. The main technical result we show towards establishing the equivalence is the following: For every odd polynomial restricted to the hypersphere f:S^n->R, there exists a compact set A in R^{n+1}, such that for every x in S^n we have f(x)=vol(A cap H^+) - vol(A cap H^-), where H is the oriented hyperplane containing the origin with x as the normal. A noteworthy aspect of the proof of the above result is the use of hyperspherical harmonics. Finally, using the above result we prove that there exist constants n_0, epsilon_0>0 such that for every n>= n_0 and epsilon <= epsilon_0/sqrt{48n}, any query algorithm to find an epsilon-bisecting (n-1)-dimensional hyperplane of n compact set in [-n^4.51,n^4.51]^n, even with success probability 2^-Omega(n), requires 2^Omega(n) queries.
  • Ham Sandwich theorem
  • Borsuk-Ulam theorem
  • Query Complexity
  • Hyperspherical Harmonics


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