- Series
- Combinatorics Seminar
- Time
- Friday, September 11, 2009 - 3:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
- Location
- Skiles 255
- Speaker
- Jinwoo Shin – MIT
- Organizer
- Prasad Tetali

We consider the #P complete problem of counting the number of independent
sets in a given graph. Our interest is in understanding the effectiveness of
the popular Belief Propagation (BP) heuristic. BP is a simple and iterative
algorithm that is known to have at least one fixed point. Each fixed point
corresponds to a stationary point of the Bethe free energy (introduced by
Yedidia, Freeman and Weiss (2004) in recognition of Hans Bethe's earlier
work (1935)). The evaluation of the Bethe Free Energy at such a stationary
point (or BP fixed point) leads to the Bethe approximation to the number of
independent sets of the given graph. In general BP is not known to converge
nor is an efficient, convergent procedure for finding stationary points of
the Bethe free energy known. Further, effectiveness of Bethe approximation
is not well understood.
As the first result of this paper, we propose a BP-like algorithm that
always converges to a BP fixed point for any graph. Further, it finds an \epsilon
approximate fixed point in poly(n, 2^d, 1/\epsilon) iterations for a graph of n
nodes with max-degree d. As the next step, we study the quality of this
approximation. Using the recently developed 'loop series' approach by
Chertkov and Chernyak, we establish that for any graph of n nodes with
max-degree d and girth larger than 8d log n, the multiplicative error decays
as 1 + O(n^-\gamma) for some \gamma > 0. This provides a deterministic counting
algorithm that leads to strictly different results compared to a recent
result of Weitz (2006). Finally as a consequence of our results, we prove
that the Bethe approximation is exceedingly good for a random 3-regular
graph conditioned on the Shortest Cycle Cover Conjecture of Alon and Tarsi
(1985) being true.
(Joint work with Venkat Chandrasekaran, Michael Chertkov, David Gamarnik and
Devavrat Shah)