April 13, 2015
The sensitivity conjecture is a major outstanding foundational problems about boolean functions is the sensitivity conjecture. In one of its many forms, it asserts that the degree of a boolean function (i.e. the minimum degree of a real polynomial that interpolates the function) is bounded above by some fixed power of its sensitivity (which is the maximum vertex degree of the graph defined on the inputs where two inputs are adjacent if they differ in exactly one coordinate and their function values are different). We propose an attack on the sensitivity conjecture in terms of a novel two-player communication game. A strong enough lower bound on the cost of this game would imply the sensitivity conjecture. To investigate the problem of bounding the cost of the game, three natural (stronger) variants of the question are considered. For two of these variants, protocols are presented that show that the hoped for lower bound does not hold. These protocols satisfy a certain monotonicity property, and (in contrast to the situation for the two variants) we show that the cost of any monotone protocol satisfies a strong lower bound. This is joint work with Justin Gilmer and Michal Koucký.