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Series: Combinatorics Seminar

Part of Spielman and Teng's smoothed analysis of the Simplex algorithm relied on showing that most minors of a typical random rectangular matrix are well conditioned (do not have any singular values too close to zero). Motivated by this, Vershynin asked the question as to whether it was typically true that ALL minors of a random rectangular matrix are well conditioned. Here I will explain why that the answer to this question is in fact no: Even an n by 2n matrix will typically have n by n minors which have singular values exponentially close to zero.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

In this talk, I will discuss chip-firing games on graphs, and the related Jacobian groups. Additionally, I will describe elliptic curves over finite fields, and how such objects also have group structures. For a family of graphs obtained by deforming the sequence of wheel graphs, the cardinalities of the Jacobian groups satisfy a nice reciprocal relationship with the orders of elliptic curves as we consider field extensions. I will finish by discussing other surprising ways that these group structures are analogous. Some of this research was completed as part of my dissertation work at the University of California, San Diego under Adriano Garsia's guidance.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

Expanders via Random Spanning Trees Motivated by the problem of routing reliably and scalably in a graph, we introduce the notion of a splicer, the union of spanning trees of a graph. We prove that for any bounded-degree n-vertex graph, the union of two random spanning trees approximates the expansion of every cut of the graph to within a factor of O(log n). For the random graph G_{n,p}, for p > c (log n)/n, two spanning trees give an expander. This is suggested by the case of the complete graph, where we prove that two random spanning trees give an expander. The construction of the splicer is elementary — each spanning tree can be produced independently using an algorithm by Aldous and Broder: a random walk in the graph with edges leading to previously unvisited vertices included in the tree. A second important application of splicers is to graph sparsification where the goal is to approximate every cut (and more generally the quadratic form of the Laplacian) using only a small subgraph of the original graph. Benczur-Karger as well as Spielman-Srivastava have shown sparsifiers with O(n log n/eps^2) edges that achieve approximation within factors 1+eps and 1-eps. Their methods, based on independent sampling of edges, need Omega(n log n) edges to get any approximation (else the subgraph could be disconnected) and leave open the question of linear-size sparsifiers. Splicers address this question for random graphs by providing sparsifiers of size O(n) that approximate every cut to within a factor of O(log n). This is joint work with Navin Goyal and Santosh Vempala.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

In 1968, Vizing proposed the following conjecture which claims that if G is an edge chromatic critical graph with n vertices, then the independence number of G is at most n/2. In this talk, we will talk about this conjecture and the progress towards this conjecture.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

Given a set of linear equations Mx=b, we say that a set of integers S is (M,b)-free if it contains no solution to this system of equations. Motivated by questions related to testing linear-invariant Boolean functions, as well as recent investigations in additive number theory, the following conjecture was raised (implicitly) by Green and by Bhattacharyya, Chen, Sudan and Xie: we say that a set of integers S \subseteq [n], is \epsilon-far from being (M,b)-free if one needs to remove at least \epsilon n elements from S in order to make it (M,b)-free. The conjecture was that for any system of homogeneous linear equations Mx=0 and for any \epsilon > 0 there is a *constant* time algorithm that can distinguish with high probability between sets of integers that are (M,0)-free from sets that are \epsilon-far from being (M,0)-free. Or in other words, that for any M there is an efficient testing algorithm for the property of being (M,0)-free. In this paper we confirm the above conjecture by showing that such a testing algorithm exists even for non-homogeneous linear equations. As opposed to most results on testing Boolean functions, which rely on algebraic and analytic arguments, our proof relies on results from extremal hypergraph theory, such as the recent removal lemmas of Gowers, R\"odl et al. and Austin and Tao.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

We will discuss some extensions/generalizations of the striking and elegant fact (proved independently by Furstenberg and Sarkozy) that any subset of the integers of positive upper density necessarily contains two distinct elements whose difference is a perfect square. This is joint work with Akos Magyar.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

Consider the following random graph process. We begin with the empty graph on n vertices and add edges chosen at random one at a time. Each edge is chosen uniformly at random from the collection of pairs of vertices that do not form triangles when added as edges to the existing graph. In this talk I discuss an analysis of the triangle-free process using the so-called differential equations method for random graph processes. It turns out that with high probability the triangle-free process produces a Ramsey R(3,t) graph, a triangle-free graph whose independence number is within a multiplicative constant factor of the smallest possible.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

In its simplest form, the Erdos-Ko-Rado theorem tells us that if we have a family F of subsets of size k from set of size v such that any two sets in the family have at least one point in common, then |F|<=(v-1)\choose(k-1) and, if equality holds, then F consists of all k-subsets that contain a given element of the underlying set.
This theorem can also be viewed as a result in graph theory, and from this viewpoint it has many generalizations. I will outline how it can be proved using linear algebra, and then discuss how this approach can be applied in other cases.

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

The Birthday Paradox says that if there are N days in a year, and 1.2*sqrt(N) days are chose uniformly at random with replacement, then there is a 50% probability that some day was chosen twice. This can be interpreted as a statement about self-intersection of random paths of length 1.2*sqrt(N) on the complete graph K_N with loops. We prove an extension which shows that for many graphs random paths with length of order sqrt(N) will have the same self-intersection property. We finish by discussing an application to the Pollard Rho Algorithm for Discrete Logarithm. (joint work with Jeong-Han Kim, Yuval Peres and Prasad Tetali).

Series: Combinatorics Seminar

We consider a random subgraph G_p of a host graph G formed by retaining each edge of G with probability p. We address the question of determining the critical value p (as a function of G) for which a giant component emerges. Suppose G satisfies some (mild) conditions depending on its spectral gap and higher moments of its degree sequence. We define the second order average degree \tilde{d} to be \tilde{d}=\sum_v d_v^2/(\sum_v d_v) where d_v denotes the degree of v. We prove that for any \epsilon > 0, if p > (1+ \epsilon)/\tilde{d} then almost surely the percolated subgraph G_p has a giant component. In the other direction, if p < (1-\epsilon)/\tilde{d} then almost surely the percolated subgraph G_p contains no giant component. (Joint work with Fan Chung Graham and Paul Horn)