Gowers uniformity, influence of variables, and PCPs

Alex Samorodnitsky*, Luca Trevisan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We study the relation of query complexity and soundness in probabilistically checkable proofs (PCPs). We present a PCP verifier for languages that are Unique-Games-Hard and such that the verifier makes q queries, has almost perfect completeness, and has soundness error at most 2q/2M q + ε for arbitrarily small ε > 0. For values of q of the form 2 t - 1, the soundness error is (q+1)/2 q +ε. Charikar, Makarychev, and Makarychev show that there is a constant β such that every language that has a verifier of query complexity q and a ratio of soundness error to completeness smaller than βq/2 q is decidable in polynomial time. Up to the value of the multiplicative constant and to the validity of the Unique Games Conjecture, our result is therefore tight. As a corollary, we show that approximating the Maximum Independent Set problem in graphs of degree δ within a factor better than δ/ (log δ) α is Unique-Games-Hard for a certain constant α > 0. Our main technical results are (i) a connection between the Gowers uniformity of a boolean function and the influence of its variables and (ii) the proof that "Gowers uniform" functions pass the "hypergraph linearity test" approximately with the same probability of a random function. The connection between Gowers uniformity and influence might have other applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)323-360
Number of pages38
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Computational complexity
  • Gowers uniformity
  • Influence of variables
  • Probabilistically checkable proofs (PCPs)


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