Polynomial Threshold Functions: Structure, Approximation and Pseudorandomness

Shachar Lovett
Weizmann Institute of Science

We study the computational power of polynomial threshold functions, that is, threshold functions of real polynomials over the boolean
cube. We provide two new results bounding the computational power of this model.

Our first result shows that low-degree polynomial threshold functions cannot approximate any function with many influential variables. We provide a couple of examples where this technique yields tight approximation bounds.
Our second result relates to constructing pseudorandom generators fooling
low-degree polynomial threshold functions. This problem has received attention recently, where Diakonikolas et al. proved that $k$-wise
independence suffices to fool linear threshold functions. We prove that any low-degree polynomial threshold function, which can be represented as a function of a small number of linear threshold functions, can also be fooled by $k$-wise independence. We view this as an important step towards fooling general polynomial threshold functions, and we discuss a plausible approach achieving this goal based on our techniques. Our results combine tools from real approximation theory, hyper-contractive inequalities and probabilistic methods. In particular, we develop several new tools in approximation theory which may be of independent interest.

Based on joint work with Ido Ben-Eliezer and Ariel Yadin.

Back to Workshop IV: Analytical Methods in Combinatorics, Additive Number Theory and Computer Science